The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the thick of a tight wild card race in the National League and could use all the help they can get. One position that the Pirates need help in is starting pitching, with all of their pitchers giving up too many runs to overcome. One possible solution to this problem would be to promote one of the team’s top pitching prospects, Nick Kingham.
Kingham started the season playing with double-A Altoona and dominated his competition to the tune of a 3.04 ERA. After a few months he moved up to triple-A Indianapolis and he has continued to pitch well. Since being promoted, he has led the International League in WHIP and ERA. That includes several pitchers who have pitched with some degree of success in the major leagues. If that wasn’t enough reason to promote Kingham, another one would be that he has the potential to be this year’s version of Gerrit Cole.
Last season, Cole was called up and provided a huge impact for the Pirates down the stretch. At certain points Cole even looked like he was the best pitcher in all of the National League. Kingham is no Cole, but he is still similar in a few regards. They are both very similar pitchers, throwing in the high 90s and generating a good amount of strikeouts. They’re both right-handed pitchers and have a good frame. The only way they’re different is that Cole started his 2013 season in triple-A, but Kingham actually has more triple-A experience than Cole did when he received his call up, meaning that he is more prepared for the big leagues.
Out of the pitchers in the rotation that Kingham could replace, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley seem most likely. Both pitchers have served admirably for the Pirates the past few weeks, but both are starting to unravel. Worley is giving up too many hard hit balls and Locke is starting to allow too many walks. Kingham could replace either one of these pitchers and the odd man out could move to the bullpen in the long relief role.
The Pirates need an impact pitcher to join Cole in their rotation. That player is in the team’s minor league system in the form of Kingham. If the Pirates want an ace in the hole and impact starter to add to their rotation for their playoff push, they would be wise to call up Kingham now and see if he can provide a similar impact to what Cole did last season.