Several of the big name pitchers are doing their thing as everyone expected. Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, C.C. Sabathia, etc. are all having All-Star years as everyone expected. Now that the season is half-way through, let’s take a look at the best pitcher that no-one is talking about: Jeff Karstens.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are relevant for the first time since the early 1990s and it is lead behind their young talent. Jeff Karstens, 28, is one of the main reasons why they are doing so well. His remarkable pitching thus far has kept the Pirates in the race to make the playoffs (in fact they are tied for first place as of 7/15).
Karstens was drafted in the 19th round (574th overall) in 2003 by the New York Yankees. After two short seasons with the Yankees, he was traded to the Pirates. In his fourth season with the Pirates, Karstens is transforming into an ace. His rise to the top had to be unexpected by most. First, he plays for the Pirates which automatically takes him off the casual fan’s radar. Second, his numbers last year were downright awful: 3-10 4.92 ERA 1.41 WHIP 72Ks in 19 starts.
But this season, he has been dominant. He finished the first half with these numbers: 7-4 2.55 ERA 1.07 WHIP 58Ks in 15 starts. To prove that his first half wasn’t a fluke, he went out and pitched a complete game shutout against the Astros in his first start of the second half, lowering his ERA to an incredible 2.34. Karstens has 11 quality starts (6+ IP with 3ER or less) in 16 starts, including 8 in a row. In fact he hasn’t allowed more than 3 ER in 15 starts.
But why have most people not heard of him? Besides the obvious (Pirates), his stuff doesn’t have the “WOW” factor. He is a pitcher to the true definition. He makes the pitches that get people out and walks very few. He is not a guy that will strike out a ton of batters. Strikeouts draw attention from the media and fans. Karstens won’t be striking out 13 in a game anytime soon, but the Pirates will take the 2Ks he had during his complete game shutout, as long as they keep winning.
Watch out for the Pirates this season, and keep an eye on Karstens.
[Photo Credit: Peter Diana/Post-Gazette via post-gazette.com]