Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Nick Kingham wasn’t going to be near perfect every time out. He’s still a young guy learning to pitch at the major league level.
And his recent stat line shows that.
Kingham allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and a walk on Sunday against the Cardinals. He struck out five and took the loss.
His stat line on the season now reads like it probably would be projected to all along.
Kingham sits at 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA and a 3.46 FIP in 29 innings pitched through his first five MLB starts.
Since his spectacular debut, Kingham’s ERA in his other four starts combined is 5.32.
Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but he hasn’t been that bad either.
Keep in mind that Kingham is projected as a middle or back of the rotation starter and that’s what he’s seen so far.
One thing that I like about Kingham is the way he’s responded to giving some early runs.
In his second MLB start against the Milwaukee Brewers, Kingham allowed four earned in six innings of work.
An early homer by Manny Pina put him in a hole, but Kingham responded to retire 12 of the next 14 batters before allowing some damage in the sixth inning. He did his job by keeping the Bucs in the game and giving them a chance to win.
Ultimately he was good enough to pick up a win that day.
Kingham is winless in his last three starts, but he hasn’t been terrible.
He allowed three first-inning runs on May 19 in a 6-2 loss to the Padres, but the impressive part is that Kingham went on to retire 17 of the next 19 San Diego hitters, once again keeping the Pirates in the game through six innings and giving them a chance to win.
The same thing happened again on Sunday when Kingham gave up a first-inning grand slam to Marcell Ozuna and then retired 15 of the next 18 of the Cardinals hitters.
The grand slam came after an error by Sean Rodriguez and Kingham has to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, but the way Kingham has responded each time he’s allowed some early damage is just as impressive as the way he flirted with a perfect game in his debut.
Kingham has the makeup of a solid MLB pitcher and once he can get rid of the first-inning hiccups, Kingham should continue to grow as an MLB pitcher.
Not getting himself in trouble
Another impressive part of Kingham through five starts is the way he’s not getting himself in trouble with the walk.
Sunday again, he struck out five while walking none.
In his 29 MLB innings, Kingham has allowed 23 hits, unfortunately four of those have been homers and they’ve done him in, but that’s all the damage he’s allowed.
Kingham has a 1.00 WHIP, after walking only five batters through five starts.
In that span, he’s struck out more than a batter per inning with 30 punch outs.
A 25.4 strikeout rate compared to a 4.2 percent walk rate just jumps off the page.
What that shows is Kingham’s ability to pound the zone no matter the situation.
If he keeps that up, the results will be just fine for Kingham going forward.
What Kingham has shown through five starts is that he belongs in the Pirates rotation going forward.
There’s no need to jump off Kingham’s bandwagon just yet.
If he’s given the opportunity long term, Kingham will put up decent numbers in the Pirates rotation.