When the 2017 season started, Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Trevor Williams was on the outside looking in when it came to a spot in the Bucs’ rotation.

Despite a very strong spring, Williams opened the season in the Pirates bullpen as the long man, having lost out to Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl for the fourth and fifth spots in the Pirates rotation.

Truth be told, Williams didn’t fare very well in that role. But thanks to Glasnow’s struggles and Jameson Taillon landing on the disabled list Williams got an opportunity in the Bucs’ rotation.

Since then, all Williams has done is make the most of his opportunity.

After Tuesday night’s seven inning solid start, you have to be fairly confident in what Williams can give you every fifth day.

He’s showing more each and every start and if Williams hasn’t seized a permanent spot in the Pirates rotation, he’s very close to doing so.

So what has made Williams effective, while youngsters like Kuhl and Glasnow have struggled?

Getting Outs

If you look at Williams’ overall line, it isn’t that pretty as his ERA is under five for the first time this season. After allowing just two runs in seven innings last night against Tampa, Williams season ERA sits at 4.82.

But let’s look a little closer.

Since May 13, a span of nine starts his ERA sits at 3.94. If you take out his one real clunker in that span, a four inning start on June 10 that saw Williams surrender five earned runs against the Marlins, his ERA is a solid 3.31 over eight starts.

In addition he has limited the opposition to a .242/.296/.376 line in that span.

He hasn’t been great. The Miami start and his very first start against the Dodgers come to mind, but in eight out of his 10 starts Williams hasn’t pitched that bad going at least five innings and allowing three runs or less in each.


Williams is able to do something that Kuhl currently can’t.

Give the Pirates some length.

Keep in mind that he needed to be stretched out after spending the first month-plus in the bullpen, but Williams has gone six or more innings in four of his last six starts.

Two of those he has managed to give the Pirates seven strong.

With all of the bullpen issues surrounding this team, Williams has been able to give some guys some rest recently. That alone is big.

Throw Strikes

Perhaps the best part of Williams’ start Tuesday night was the fact that he matched a career high with seven punch outs while walking no one.

He has a nice 17.4 strike out percentage, while his walk rate is only 4.3 on the season.

In five June starts Williams has walked a total of six batters.

The same goes for the month of May when he walked just six in six total appearances.

The kid is throwing strikes and not getting himself into jams.

Getting the Job Done

There’s a lot to like about Williams as a starter.

First and foremost he has kept the ball in the ballpark, surrendering just three homers in his last nine stats. Two of those came in one game.

He has also done his job by keeping the ball on the ground at a 47.4 percent clip as a starter. Throw in that he is allowing soft contact a third of the time and Williams simply isn’t making too many mistakes.

Finally there is his FIP which stands at 3.26 as a starter. During the month of June though it is at 3.17, which is the 17th best mark of all MLB pitchers for the month.

Williams is still a young pitcher and he will turn in a few more bad outings the rest of the way.

But he will be more consistently good than bad and if he keeps progressing, Williams should have a rotation spot locked down for the foreseeable future.

Matt Shetler

Matt is a life long Pirates fan with both a newspaper and radio background. Before coming to Pirates Breakdown he was most recently the co-owner and lead columnist for Pittsburgh Sporting News. He has been a credentialed writer for all four major sports and also has written for plenty of other sports and fantasy sports websites.