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    Default Karstens approaches everything as a starter

    Karstens approaches everything as a starter
    Sunday, June 12, 2011
    By Bill Brink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The pitchers have a contest, Paul Maholm said, to see who can throw the slowest curveball. Jeff Karstens was the clubhouse leader at 66 mph entering Thursday night, and he raised the ante when he sent 65 mph curve lollygagging across the plate against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    [IMGR]http://i51.tinypic.com/4t6dtk.jpg[/IMGR]"It's almost like he's toying with guys," Charlie Morton said. "Just how he'll throw a curveball in there at 74, then a fastball in there at 87, then he'll throw a 66 mile an hour curveball, and it just looks like fun."

    And it has worked. Karstens, who has moved between the bullpen and the rotation before, assumed a starting spot in April to fill in for the injured Ross Ohlendorf. Now, he has a 2.94 ERA and 44 strikeouts and has not walked a batter -- unintentionally -- since May 14.

    "I'm just happy they're letting me go past the sixth inning, fifth inning now," he said.

    Karstens had pitched more than six innings once before June 3, when he needed just 69 pitches to throw seven innings of one-run ball against the Philadelphia Phillies. Thursday, he threw 79 pitches in seven scoreless innings .

    "We've never really gotten a chance to see what he can do when given the ball every five days," Morton said.

    Even so, Karstens maintained a starter's mentality, regardless of when he entered the game.

    "In his mind, it's always been, 'I'm going to approach this as I'm a starter,' " Morton said. "You can see that because he's confident, and he acts like that's his spot."

    "He earned it," Maholm said. "He's definitely taken hold of it."

    Karstens is 3-4. Last season, he went 3-10 in 26 appearances, including 19 starts, with an ERA of 4.92.

    He said that when he put runners on base early in previous years, like he did Thursday, the results could have suffered.

    Thursday, he escaped the innings easily, no harm done.

    Karstens' stuff will get major league hitters out -- "He's got a lot of different pitches, a couple arm angles," Maholm said -- but the chance to throw those pitches more often has helped him improve his performance.

    "I think it's just a matter of getting out there more, more repetition, and just believing in what I'm doing," Karstens said. "A lot of times I go out there, you can make great pitches and they're going to get hit.

    "I'm kind of on a little roll right now, and I'm going to ride it until it ends. If there is a bump, hopefully the bump's very short."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Behind the plate: What now?[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    The Pirates' two starting catchers, Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder, are on the disabled list because of serious injuries: Doumit has a broken ankle, Snyder a herniated disc in his lower back. Doumit went to Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., to continue his rehab and could return in late July. Snyder had surgery Friday morning at Allegheny General Hospital and was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

    "It really does [stink], honestly," Karstens said. "[Doumit's] a big bat, Snyder's a great game-caller. I think it's just a matter of us [pitchers] putting a little burden on our shoulders. It's going to cause us to watch a little more video, pay attention a little more because we're not going to have that luxury of just being able to go out there and kind of coast."

    Manager Clint Hurdle has said he would like the Pirates to acquire a catcher from outside the organization. For the time being, he has Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas, who both recently joined the Pirates from Class AAA Indianapolis.

    "The game moves very quick up here," Hurdle said. "The stuff from the staff is more dynamic here across the board. There's more speed involved in this game on the bases. I think catching at the major league level is one of the biggest jumps at any position."

    Brown has appeared in six games and has two hits in 16 at-bats. Toregas had one hit in 29 at-bats at Indianapolis before joining the Pirates.

    Though there could be a learning curve, interaction with the pitchers will help.

    "The first time out's always nerve-wracking because you don't really know," Karstens said. "The first time with Snyder last year I didn't know what to do. [Brown] had a good idea. I wrote it down, kind of like Snyder did. We talked between innings."

    That interaction will ease with time.

    "It's something after the first few innings of the game, hopefully your guys get on the same page," Brown said. "It's kind of just roll with the punches, learn as you go."

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Looking ahead: Interleague[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    The Pirates travel to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros this week, then go back to interleague play with a series on the road against the Indians. When the Pirates need a designated hitter, it is possible they could recall a minor leaguer, such as Indianapolis' Alex Presley or John Bowker, Hurdle said.

    "[Friday is] a target date that we're looking at seriously," Hurdle said regarding adding a hitter.

    Presley is hitting .338 with a .519 slugging percentage and has eight home runs and 32 RBIs for Indianapolis. Bowker hit .235 in 19 games early in the season for the Pirates before going to Indianapolis, and is hitting .327 there.

    "Alex Presley picked up where he left off last year by performing very consistently and at a high level," director of player development Kyle Stark said. "He has maintained a consistent approach at the plate, doesn't try to do too much, and allows his athleticism to play."

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11163/1153145-63.stm
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    Default Re: Karstens approaches everything as a starter

    Karstens looks more poised and confident than he ever has. He isn't getting the notoriety he deserves, but he has really more than held his own since returning to the rotation. He has been as valuable as anyone so far. Great job Jeff.
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    Default Re: Karstens approaches everything as a starter

    That's a decent picture of Karstens for a change

    There's the recent thread about surprise player or something and Karstens was it for me. BUT ... i can remember his debut, actually his first 2 games. He went something like 14 IP's in both of those games and didn't give up a run. He didn't throw many K's but his curveball looked filthy. Most of his pitches did. They would go in and then just bottom out to the left. A lot of movement and even if he didn't get K's, guys were grounding out and not making good contact.

    The stuff was there but it usually only showed in very short time frames the rest of the way. After 3 IP's, 4IP's, the movement would disappear and he'd go flat and he never had a FB to really fall back on if his other stuff was off. He needs his other stuff. Right now it looks like the endurance and everything is there and he's pitching longer and with success.
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    Default Re: Karstens approaches everything as a starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    That's a decent picture of Karstens for a
    [HIGH-LIGHT][/HIGH-LIGHT]
    change

    There's the recent thread about surprise player or something and Karstens was it for me. BUT ... i can remember his debut, actually his first 2 games. He went something like 14 IP's in both of those games and didn't give up a run. He didn't throw many K's but [HIGH-LIGHT][/HIGH-LIGHT]his curveball looked filthy. Most of his pitches did. They would go in and then just bottom out to the left. A lot of movement and even if he didn't get K's, guys were grounding out and not making good contact.

    The stuff was there but it usually only showed in very short time frames the rest of the way. After 3 IP's, 4IP's, the movement would disappear and he'd go flat and he never had a FB to really fall back on if his other stuff was off. He needs his other stuff. Right now it looks like the endurance and everything is there and he's pitching longer and with success.
    He usually is pictured looking almost like Jack Wilson with much bigger teeth
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    Default Re: Karstens approaches everything as a starter

    On Karstens, I can say with no doubts, Ya heard it here first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by CROSSBONES; Jun-13-2011 at 05:14 PM.
    Remember, that which hath not killed you, will try again...................

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