Williams a Bright Spot in Tough Stretch

Pirates starter has been dominant of late

Josh Rowntree
August 22, 2018 - 11:42 pm
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Trevor Williams (34) delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at PNC Park.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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The Pirates continue to scuffle at the plate and fall further and further out of the National League playoff picture, but don’t blame Trevor Williams. 

Williams has looked like a Cy Young candidate in his last seven starts, allowing just a total of four earned runs in 42 innings. 

That’s a 0.86 ERA, but Pittsburgh has lost three of those seven outings, including Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta. 

“He’s pitched so well,” Clint Hurdle said. “And he pitched so well tonight. His first-pitch strikes, guys retired efficiently, soft contact, strikeouts.”

“It was just fun to watch him out there, like a kid in the backyard going to work.”

Williams went six innings, striking out four and walking two, while surrendering just two hits. The only blemish in the run column came on a leadoff home run by Ronald Acuña, Jr. to start the game. 

“You know, it’s one pitch and it’s one run,” Williams said of the early blow. “The solo homers don’t usually beat teams… I was able to hit the reset button, stay in the windup and just roll from there.”

He may have had a chance to go into the seventh inning, having only thrown 84 pitches, but Hurdle elected to pinch-hit Josh Harrison instead, knowing the needed the offense.

“Those are hard decisions,” Hurdle said. 

Harrison struck out on just four pitches.

The Pirates have scored only seven runs in their last seven games, losing five of those contests. Five of the team’s runs in that stretch came in weekend wins over Chicago. They have scored only two total runs in the five losses. 

“We’re showing up at the yard and doing our best,” Williams said of the pitching staff, which has been excellent despite the losses. “When you’re on a run like this, you need to give the team the best chance to win. 

“We know what we have to do and limit the damage as much as we can.”

The margin for error is razor thin on a team that hit just .167 in the three-game series sweep. But there’s much to take away from Williams righting the ship in an up-and-down 2018. 

“I’ve learned a lot about myself this year,” he said. “It’s not a secret that I was getting kicked in the mouth for a while.

“Going into the All-Star Break, the second half was either going to make or break me as a ballplayer. We knew what we needed to work on and we really put the foot down in between starts, to dial it in and execute pitcher more and we’ve been rolling with it.”

Pittsburgh is now two games under .500. The division is out of reach. The Wild Card appears that way, too. While the outlook may start to shift to 2019, Williams is locked in on what remains this year.

“We’ve got eight-plus more starts to go and I’m looking forward to those opportunities the rest of the way.”

Hear all of what Trevor Williams had to say below.