With the Pittsburgh Pirates set to promote Nick Kingham to start their game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, what should be expected from him? More importantly, what is his role with the team in the long run?
While it is highly unusual for prospect to take such a long time to make his debut, Kingham’s progress has been delayed multiple times due to a variety of injuries. He lost a significant amount of time on the field when he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and last year missed a few weeks due to an ankle injury.
To say that this debut is well deserved and a long time coming is an understatement. This young man has gone through a lot and will savor every minute on the mound tomorrow.
Dominating in Indy
Kingham has been the best pitcher on the Indianapolis staff, so his statistics and years of experience in the minor leagues are reasons that he is the team’s top choice for the start this weekend.
He’s tossed 22.2 innings this season and so far has posted a K/9 of 10.72, which would be the best mark of his career if he kept that pace up all year.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]His BB/9 of 2.78 is right about where he has been for his career, another sign that Kingham has the consistency needed to be a starter at the next level.[/perfectpullquote]
His ERA this year sits at 1.59 and his FIP is 2.08, which shows that he is pitching fairly close to his true ability at the Triple-A level.
What to Expect?
So what should be expected out of Kingham this Sunday?
Since this will be his debut, there will no doubt be some nerves when he takes the mound and he’ll be facing the perennially tough Cardinals, so he is not getting the easiest opponent in his first big league start.
More likely than not, Kingham will be out on the mound for about five innings or so, maybe into the sixth if he is pitching well.
This writer’s official prediction:
5 IP 7 H 4 R/ER 3 BB 6 K 1 HR
This writer would like to go on the record and state that he genuinely hopes that he is wrong and that Kingham is on the mound much longer than five innings.
However, this spot start could turn into a much longer look for Kingham if he impresses given the state of the back end of the rotation in Pittsburgh.
Steven Brault, holding down the most precarious of all of the rotation spots, turned in another subpar start on Friday when he gave up four runs on five hits (including a home run) and three walks over just four and two thirds innings against the Cardinals.
Of his five starts this season, Friday’s game marked the fourth time that Brault failed to complete six innings. It was also the third time that he gave up at least four runs, so if there is going to be an odd man out if Kingham turns in a great performance, it is more than likely Brault.
The reality of the situation is that Kingham will probably only be up for the start on Sunday now but will rejoin the team again later.
The team seems determined to find out what exactly they have in Tyler Glasnow, so while the tall right hander has had his ups and downs this season, it will surprise no one if he gets another opportunity to start.
But a solid start by Kingham on Sunday could force the team to make a tough decision. A tough decision, but a decision that any team would be happy to make.
Even if he is not a permanent member of the rotation this year, Kingham can use this start on Sunday and any others he has this season to impress management and be in the conversation for 2019.