Nick Kingham’s numbers aren’t spectacular by any means but for a bullpen that’s had a lot of work due to the rotation’s inconsistency, the 27-year-old former top prospect has resulted in a helpful addition for an overworked bullpen.
Back on June 13th, the Blue Jays sent cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Nick Kingham, a former top 100 MLB prospect who has not been able to translate his minor league success in the majors. Kingham, who made his MLB debut last year with the Pirates as a starter, had a long and difficult road to the big leagues after being one of the most promising young arms in the majors back in 2014.
In 2015 he tore his UCL and had to go through Tommy John surgery, which shut down his chances of making his major league debut that year after having a 3.34 earned run average (ERA) in 26 starts down in the minor leagues and a 2.89 ERA year in 25 starts. in 2014 and 2013 respectively. His major league debut was imminent while his value as a top pitching prospect kept rising until the surgery.
Since then, Kingham has never really been the same pitcher but managed to put up some solid numbers in the minors after the surgery. In 16′, 17′ and 2018, the right-hander pitched to a combined 3.59 ERA in 43 total starts among those three seasons.
After spending 8 years down in the minors, the 27-year-old from Houston, Texas, had his first stint in the majors with the Pirates and finished the 2018 season with a 5.21 ERA in 15 starts and three appearances out of the bullpen.
The 6-foot-5 right hander’s 2019 season started off on a negative note and ended up getting designated for assignment after posting a 9.87 ERA in 14 appearances as a Pirate, including four starts. It’s been a bit of a different story for him since he arrived in Toronto.
His first pitch for the Blue Jays ended up in a deep home run by Astros outfielder Josh Reddick but things have turned out better for Kingham since he wears a Blue Jays uniform. He has a 3.94 ERA as a Blue Jay in 16 innings out of the bullpen.
He has been primarily used as the long reliever, usually working through two innings, most recently against the New York Yankees on Saturday’s 2-1 victory in which he pitched 2.2 innings without allowing a run and striking out three.
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It’s worth noting Kingham’s fielding independent pitching (FIP) stands at 6.21 as a Blue Jay but his ERA+, the ERA adjusted to ballparks and opponents, stands at 116 which indicates he has pitched fine for a Blue Jays bullpen that is fourth in the majors in innings pitched with 388.0. A long reliever, which seems like Kingham’s role so far, that can keep games close, might be just what this bullpen needed to avoid the overwork it’s been subject to due to the big inconsistency from the starting rotation.
Realistically speaking, Kingham might have his days counted as a Blue Jay and he most likely won’t be a part of the Blue Jays future unless he excels for the rest of the season. Sticking to the facts, however, his 3.94 ERA out of the bullpen has been needed and helpful for a bullpen that’s had a lot of work this season due to the inconsistency of the starting rotation.
A starting opportunity for Kingham shouldn’t be ruled out but the Blue Jays might prefer to leave him as the long reliever down in the bullpen and have him find stability in that role.