The Pirates have had to go almost a month without right-hander Trevor Williams, who landed on the injured list May 17 with a right side strain. Williams will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday, though, and could slot back into Pittsburgh’s rotation as early as next Tuesday, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports.
Even with the injury factored in, the 27-year-old Williams has perhaps been the Pirates’ best starter in 2019. Before going on the IL, Williams totaled nine starts and 54 innings – good for a six-frame average – and pitched to a matching 3.33 ERA/3.33 FIP with 7.0 K/9, 1.67 BB/9 and .67 HR/9. It continued an underrated run of production for Williams, who combined for a 3.49 ERA/3.68 FIP over 56 starts and 309 1/3 innings from 2017-18.
In addition to Williams’ forthcoming return, the Pirates will soon welcome back fellow righty Jordan Lyles, per Berry. Lyles just hit the IL on the 10th with left hamstring tightness, though it appears he’ll only miss the minimum 10 days. So far in 2019, the 28-year-old has performed like one of the top bargain signings of the offseason. Since inking a one-year, $2.05MM contract during the winter, Lyles has notched a 3.64 ERA/3.63 FIP with 9.23 K/9, 3.36 BB/9 and .98 HR/9 in 12 starts and 64 1/3 frames.
Of the 11 pitchers who have started for the Pirates this year, Williams, Lyles, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon are the only ones who have posted average or better numbers. Taillon has been down since the beginning of May with a right flexor strain, however, and Berry reports there’s still no timetable for his return. Meanwhile, Chris Archer has come up well short of expectations, Steven Brault has battled control problems, and opposing offenses hammered high-end prospect Mitch Keller during his first two starts.