There was only one situation that gave Nick Kingham any trouble in his start Thursday night with Indianapolis – the stretch. Fortunately for Kingham, he did not face the situation until the sixth inning.
Not only was Kingham perfect through the first 5.2 innings, he was simply dominant against Columbus, who boasts the third best team OPS in the International League.
The final line for Kingham was six shutout innings, allowing only two hits and a walk, while striking out four. It was a nice rebound performance for Kingham, who allowed 10 hits and six earned runs on July 5.
The difference maker for Kingham is the changeup, which was geared in Thursday. Kingham was hitting from 91-93 on the fastball and 84-87 on the changeup and curveball. Of the off-speed pitches, a vast majority were that overpowering changeup. He told me a few weeks back that, despite the gap not being drastic, he banks on the off-speed pitches to throw batters off his fastball.
On Thursday, it was no different. Kingham used the fastball to set up the off-speed pitches later in the outing, particularly the second time through the order. In the first two innings, he threw 16 fastballs, compared to nine off-speed pitches in that span. In the first two innings, he started all six of the hitters with the heater. In the second inning, Kingham followed up by throwing a first pitch fastball to two of the three hitters.
Once the game got to the third inning, the spread was more balanced. In the fourth inning, which marked the second time through the order, the pitches were an even six fastballs and six off speed pitches. In the fourth, he started two of the three hitters off with a changeup. In the fifth, it was all three with the changeup.
The only trouble that Kingham ran into all night was in the sixth. This also marked the first time that he threw out of the stretch, as Kingham was four outs away from a seven-inning minor league double-header perfect game. After he allowed his first hit of the game with two outs, Kingham lost some of the pinpoint command that he had all night. With the runner on, he threw six balls and three strikes to the next two hitters. He fell behind both 2-0. Both of the hits that he allowed were on the fastball.
However, Kingham responded with the bases loaded to strike out Cleveland slugging prospect Jesus Aguilar with that change-up(video below).
Kingham also told me that he looks to the off-speed pitches as his put away pitches. That was also apparent on Thursday, as all four of his strikeouts were on off speed pitches – three changeups and a curveball in the dirt.
Outside of the tough outing on July 5, Kingham has been nearly perfect. He has allowed just one earned run in 32.2 innings. The strikeout to walk ratio is at 30:6. With this kind of success with Indianapolis, Kingham is making a serious case to get a look with the Pirates in September.