Trevor Williams Continues to Shine in the Rotation in Pirates’ Win Over the Reds

PITTSBURGH — Don’t look now, but Trevor Williams might have gone from the bullpen to the Pirates’ most effective starting pitcher.

Williams went seven scoreless in the Pirates’ 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. His season ERA is now 4.14 and it’s 4.02 as a starter, which is the lowest amongst the team’s five-man rotation.

On Sunday, he allowed eight hits and a walk but stranded seven with the help of five strikeouts. It’s the third straight strong outing from Williams, who had a 3.93 ERA in the month of August.

The key for Williams to navigating all the traffic on Sunday: “no panic.”

“We had a good game plan going,” Williams said. “We knew we could get some outs at the bottom of the zone. (Elias) Diaz called a great game … You make your biggest pitches of the game out of the stretch. Those are the pitches that hold the most merit.”

There’s a fine line between not panicking and getting complacent in the face of the very real danger he was in at the time, and Williams seems to have found a way to walk it.

“It could have a been a 2-1 game, 3-1 game with one swing of the bat,” he said. ”That’s what I flourish on: pitching with a sense of urgency and like my job depends on it. We have a lot of good guys coming up through the minors. It’s one of those things. Do your job and do it now and do it right.”

Williams should know all about that. He came out of the bullpen initially a short-term sub for Jameson Taillon, but has since put an iron grip on his spot in the starting rotation.

“For him to take that next step, it’s all part of the vision we had when we got him from the Marlins two years ago,” Hurdle said. “Give our scouting department credit. Give Neal and the guys up there credit. Now give the pitcher credit, because he’s been taking the ball and making those adjustments and getting better.”

Here’s more from Williams on his improvements and navigating the Reds’ lineup.

HE SAID IT

“I look around the league, I see other guys around the league that crowd the plate more than me. Why am I the one to get hit? I mean, you’ve got to throw in, but I think there might be something to it.” — Pirates 2B Josh Harrison on being hit with an MLB-high 23 pitches this season.

GAME IN GRAPHS

Williams used both of his fastballs, but leaned on the four-seamer more than the two-seamer and was able to locate it to all four corners of the zone.

QUICK HITS

***Jordy Mercer and Starling Marte hit solo home runs and the kids teamed up for a run in the sixth as Max Moroff doubled and Jordan Luplow singled him home. Both Moroff and Luplow finished 1 for 4.

It was Mercer’s career-high 13th home run of the season. He said he thinks the power surge is mostly just a byproduct of him being a more experienced hitter and capitalizing better on mistake pitches.

“I didn’t lift anymore,” he joked. “I just think it’s experience, getting myself in good situations to hit and knowing what the guy is trying to do to me.”

***Felipe Rivero gave up two walks, an error and an infield hit to allow an unearned run in the ninth but earned his 17th save nonetheless. Hurdle seemed unconcerned about the inefficient outing from his closer.

“I see it as a guy who’s pitching the most innings he’s ever pitched, the most leveraged innings he’s ever pitched and it being September,” Hurdle said. “Every once it a while, those days catch up to you.

  • I’ll freely admit, I came into the season thinking Williams was a hum-drum-bum. Irrelevant to this season of Pirates baseball or any other. I sit here on September 4th most impressed by him of all Pirates pitchers and have him as #2 on my overall pleasant surprise list for the team behind only Bell.

    I still don’t get it with Kuhl and think he’s destined to be a great reliever, Brault and Glasnow need to do it in the bigs and the other AAA guys are even further behind them in my mind.

    To me, Williams is penciled in at #3 in next years rotation behind Taillon and a free agent/traded for lefty.

  • I know it’s only 2 games but what in those two games implies that Diaz calls a bad game? 1 run in 2 games is pretty good.

  • Josh doesn’t crowd the plate. He has an open stance and is well off the plate. Odd for even him to think he crowds the plate.

  • Williams is Karstens 2.0. Which isn’t a bad thing, he is the type of pitcher all teams need, but I hope he isn’t the best starter on the team number wise next year. I have a lot of confidence he isn’t now or will be Tailon is going to be fine and if we keep Cole he will be too

    • I think you aren’t giving Williams enough credit. I liked Karstens, but Williams has much better pitches to work with, while Karstens got by with junk and guile.

      • This may be true, but don’t forget how good Karstens was before injury. He had a run like this or even better

        • Yes, but Karstens was a junk baller. Williams has a decent fastball that he pitches off of.

  • Nothing against Williams as I think he has exceeded expectations, but all you need to know about this season can be summed up in the statement he has been Pirates best SP this season.

    Lots of underachieving arms in Western PA this year.

    • I really like Williams, but I will agree that, if he’s the best pitcher, it’s not going to be a solid rotation.

      Aside from Cole…I don’t know about underachieving though. Nova’s pitched in line with his career numbers, Taillon got cancer…can’t really hold that against him, and Kuhl has been about as good as he should have been.

      I don’t know so much that it was underachieving as it was just a lack of top line talent. Couple that with so many wasted starts by Glasnow and, no, none of this was a recipe for success.

      Hopefully Kuhl, Williams, and Taillon build on this year and Glasnow is ready for next season.

      • I’d argue Nova severely underperformed from what he showed at end of last season and beginning of this year. Pitching in NL at PNC half the time should in itself make him a better SP than career norms as a Yankee. To say he pitched to that level is a step back in my opinion.

        For Pirates to be competitive next year, they need Cole, Taillon, and Glasnow results to match their arm talent. And then they need some combination of TW, CK, & Nova, if he’s not dealt away, to be solid back end guys.

        • Nova seemed to lose focus and command of his pitches in mid season. Best thing for the Bucs would be to unload him this winter and focus on youth. Cole has seldom been the pitcher that his arm says should be there. Combine TW’s mind with Cole’s stuff and you’d have a dynamite pitcher. The Bucs have one more year to fix him. If I were choosing the 2018 rotation it would be:
          Cole
          Taillon
          Williams
          Kuhl
          Glasnow
          with Brault (short) and Kingham (long) pitching out of the bullpen.

          • I like your rotation. Hopefully TG’s success in Indy will translate to Pittsburgh this time.

    • Yes Scott I agree. Really nothing to get excited about.

    • Agree

  • Yeah he made a Quintana trade irrelevant

  • I didn’t see the post ge interview with Jordy on TV but heard he refused the Gatorade shower. Good for him! The team shouldn’t celebrate a win over Cincy when the season has gone so bad.

  • I’m conflicted. 8 hits (and not all of them were singles either) and 0 runs. Is this luck or an excellent damage control? Is there such thing as damage control?

    Anyway, good job Trevor and the kids.

    Now if Rivero will pitch more efficiently.. his command seems off these days.

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