Pirates bump struggling Nick Kingham from rotation in favor of Rookie Davis
With front-end starters Trevor Williams and Jameson Taillon sidelined by injuries, the Pittsburgh Pirates asked Nick Kingham and Steven Brault to patch holes in their rotation over the past few weeks.
Kingham’s audition is over. He is headed to the bullpen, replaced by 26-year-old righty Rookie Davis. Brault’s spot remains secure for the time being.
Kingham has allowed 23 runs in 192⁄3 innings in five starts. His ERA for the season is 8.91. Manager Clint Hurdle’s decision to remove him from the rotation needs no more justification than that.
“Numbers. Nick’s performance level as a starter hasn’t been what he wants or we want,” Hurdle said. “This opportunity in the bullpen, he can help us stabilize there, maybe take smaller bites out of the lineup.”
Davis, who was once a top prospect in the Cincinnati organization, signed with the Pirates in the offseason and competed for the fifth starter spot in spring training. He was effective out of the bullpen in his first three major league outings this season, allowing two runs over 62⁄3 innings, before giving up a two-run homer to Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman on Wednesday night.
Davis, who made six starts for the Reds in 2017 before missing last season with a hip injury, is scheduled to start Friday in Milwaukee. Kingham gave up five runs in three innings against the Brewers last Saturday.
“He’s pitched in the big leagues. He’s started in the big leagues. Give us an opportunity to look at him,” Hurdle said. “Nick just saw (the Brewers). Didn’t want to take that chance again.”
Brault, meanwhile, has a 5.45 ERA, but he is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings over his past three appearances. He struggled with his control Tuesday against Atlanta, allowing only one earned run but failing to make it out of the fourth inning.
Hurdle said he will encourage Brault to attack the middle of the plate when he starts Sunday in Milwaukee.
“How many times when you throw it in the middle does it end up in the middle?” Hurdle said. “When we’re trying to play edges, it ends up off the plate, and our counts are getting backwards. We’re pitching behind people. The number of walks have been problematic.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .