After the Pittsburgh Pirates traded away their former ace Gerrit Cole, it was assumed the rotation was decimated and had little chance of really becoming anything. We all knew Jameson Taillon would likely pitch his way into the ace role but a lot of uncertainty surrounded the rest of the rotation.
Heading into 2018, I was very high on Trevor Williams.
Most knew him as an awesome Twitter personality before he even made it to the major leagues. To this day, he continues being the top follow among Pirates players. Williams has also come into this season continuing the same consistency he showed over the final three months of 2017.
Pitchers all will have bad days (see Taillon’s start on Thursday) and Williams has yet to have one this season. He eventually will but it won’t change his overall outlook.
Williams was acquired in 2015 after they lost pitching advisor Jim Benedict to the Marlins. The Marlins sent Williams to Pittsburgh and acquired minor league arm Richard Mitchell. Williams was a second round pick in 2013 for the Marlins. He was no pushover and had a pedigree upon being drafted. That baffles me as to why fans were shocked that Williams was as good as he was last season and continuing into 2018.
So far this season Williams has started five games. He’s pitched to a solid 3-1, 2.15 ERA, 1.16 WHIP stat line early on. Let’s go start by start and assess his performances.
April 1st (@DET): W, 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 1 K- Williams held the Tigers hit-less over six innings but did walk five batters. Williams was battling the cold, something he didn’t usually have to battle in his college days at Arizona State or even early in his career, and wore sleeves. While the sleeves don’t seem like a huge deal, he said he’d much rather pitch in cold with no sleeves than be warm and uncomfortable while throwing. His stuff was working that day and he didn’t get a ton of help from the home plate umpire but he still wasn’t effective enough to make it more than six after throwing 85 pitches.
April 6th (CIN): W, 5.1 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K- This was an odd start. It was still frigid and snowy and didn’t allow for the best conditions for Williams to pitch. He cut down the walks but allowed double digit hits. It was the only outing in which he didn’t complete six full innings on the young season. Despite the high hit total, Williams was able to limit the scoring of the Reds and get his second win of the season.
April 12th (@CHC): W, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K- The Cubs daunting and talented lineup was no match for Williams as he mowed down their hitters with relative ease. He allowed one eared run, a home run and his only one allowed so far this season, and struck out five hitters and provided more longevity getting another six inning start and saving the bullpen just that much more.
April 17th (COL): L, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K- Another cold weather start for Williams in which he provided another quality start except this time the bats went cold with the weather. Williams gave the Pirates a chance to win the ballgame but they couldn’t string together hits and Williams eventually wound up with his first loss of the season. He went into the game with a chance to be the first pitcher in 2018 to get to four wins.
April 22nd (@PHI): ND, 6.0 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 7 K- This afternoon’s start was truly a mixed bag. Williams carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning that was broken up by Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta. He upped his strike out total to seven, a season high. He also walked five as he did in his first start when he went six no-hit innings. The Phillies couldn’t get too many barrels on the ball and when they did, they weren’t getting on base. They manufactured the five walks and eventually ended up winning the game in the 11th.
Throughout his first five starts, Williams has really had many different types of battles with cold, command and the like. With the weather continuing to improve, Williams will likely do the same.
He doesn’t have Taillon’s stuff or Felipe Vazquez’s velocity but he has the competitiveness and the talent to thrive without being a plus-tool pitcher. Remember, he was a second round pick so it shouldn’t be a shock that he can really provide consistency to a Pirates rotation that really needs it if they plan to contend into the latter half of the season.
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