Top Performers: Nick Kingham Continues His Impressive Season With Bradenton
Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten and the bottom five starts are broken down below the chart. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.
*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.
The Top Ten
Nick Kingham and David Bromberg tied for the top spot this week, with each posting a 72 game score. Kingham went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out nine. The nine strikeouts was his second highest total of the year. On April 28th he struck out 13 in six shutout innings, which earned him the top game score that week. Kingham joins Stolmy Pimentel and Andy Oliver as the only pitchers who have posted the top game score two weeks out of the year. Oliver and Pimentel tied with each other one week. There have only been two weeks this year where one of those three starters haven’t been at the top.
Bromberg’s outing wasn’t a start. He came in to reliever Charlie Morton, who went four innings in a rehab start. Normally when there’s a rehab start that goes four innings or less, the regularly scheduled starter will come in out of the bullpen and act like he’s making a start. Bromberg came in and threw five no-hit innings, allowing one walk and striking out six.
Brandon Cumpton continues to post impressive, and somewhat surprising numbers for Indianapolis. I say surprising because he had a rough start to the year with Altoona, and started off rough in his first start with Indianapolis. He had the third best game score this week with six shutout innings. In the month of May he has a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings, with a 23:10 K/BB ratio and a very impressive 3.09 GO/AO ratio.
Zack Dodson has looked good since returning from his suspension and joining Bradenton. In his most recent start he gave up just one run in 6.2 innings, with five strikeouts and two walks. Dodson was cruising through the outing, and finished with 99 pitches. He missed closing out the seventh inning, walking the final batter he faced on a full count.
Casey Sadler had the top score in the system last week, and rounded out the top five this week. Sadler went seven shutout innings, allowing five hits, two walks, and striking out three. Out of nine starts this year, Sadler has four starts where he’s gone seven innings or more with one or fewer earned runs. On the season he has a 2.79 ERA in 58 innings, with a 30:15 K/BB ratio and a 2.15 GO/AO ratio.
Clay Holmes has been in the bottom five almost every week, but made it to the top ten with his latest start. Holmes gave up just one run on one hit in five innings on Friday. He did walk three batters, and walks continue to be an issue. On the season Holmes has a 22:28 K/BB ratio in 36 innings.
Luis Sanz has been filling in as a starter for Altoona the last two weeks, and made it to the top ten this week. In his second start for Altoona he went 5.2 innings, allowing two runs and striking out five. Sanz has a 3.63 ERA and a 23:15 K/BB ratio in 22.1 innings this year.
Tyler Glasnow finished eighth this week after another performance where he dominated with strikeouts. Glasnow struck out eight batters in four innings, which is actually his lowest strikeout total in his last three starts. In the last four starts Glasnow has given up four earned runs in 19 innings, with an incredible 34:10 K/BB ratio. On the season he has a 50:21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings. Even more impressive is that he has only given up 14 hits on the year.
Joely Rodriguez has been putting up strong numbers this season. In his latest start he gave up one earned run in six innings, which is the fourth start in a row that he went 5+ innings with one or fewer earned runs. Rodriguez has a 3.14 ERA in 43 innings this year with a 36:12 K/BB ratio and a 2.19 GO/AO ratio.
Gerrit Cole rounded out the top ten with his first of two starts last week. Cole went six innings, allowing three runs and striking out five. That was a positive sign, as Cole wasn’t striking out a lot of batters prior to that start. It didn’t carry over to the second start, which finished in the bottom five.
The Bottom Five
The bottom five this week includes a lot of top prospects. The worst game score belongs to Adrian Sampson, who was hit for seven runs on 11 hits in four innings in his second start of the week. Sampson has good stuff, but he’s struggled so far in the aggressive promotion to Bradenton.
Jake Burnette had the second lowest game score in his second start of the week. He only lasted two-thirds of an inning, giving up six runs on three hits. Burnette joined the West Virginia rotation this week, but didn’t put up impressive numbers in either start.
Nick Kingham had the best score of the week, but he also had the third worst with his first start. Kingham lasted two-thirds of an innings, giving up four runs on three hits. It was a bump in the road for Kingham, who has been excellent the rest of the season.
Gerrit Cole rounded out the top ten, but he also ended up in the bottom five with his second start of the week. Cole gave up eight earned runs in 5.2 innings on Sunday for his worst start of the season.
After finishing in the top three in four of the first five weeks, Stolmy Pimentel finished in the bottom five for the second week in a row. He gave up six runs on ten hits in six innings. Pimentel started the year giving up three earned runs in 36.1 innings. In his last two starts he’s given up 12 earned runs in 10.1 innings.