Jeff Karstens was supposed to be the worst of the eight players the Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired in the past week.
If that’s true, and if Karstens’ Friday debut was any indication of the future, then the Pirates have a lot to look forward to.
Karstens had the best start of his Major League career Friday, pitching six shutout innings as the Pirates defeated the National League-leading Chicago Cubs, 3-0. It was Karstens’ first Major League appearance of the 2008 season.
Karstens was impressive throughout the game, and did a tremendous job of keeping one of baseball’s better offenses off balance. His strength appears to be his movement, particularly on his fastball, which tails away from left-handed batters and in on right-handed batters’ hands.
The start was not perfect, however. Karstens walked four batters in six innings against the patient Chicago lineup (most of his pitches didn’t miss by much), and he found himself in multiple jams as a result. Karstens was able to get every big out Friday, but he will certainly need to learn to harness his movement a bit better.
Karstens was not the only new Pirate to influence the outcome of today’s game: Third baseman Andy LaRoche and outfielder Brandon Moss, both acquired yesterday for Jason Bay, made their presences felt as well.
LaRoche was a key part of the Pirates’ two-run second inning, as he singled up the middle and came around to score the Bucs' second run. Moss made his impact on defense, catching a short fly ball and making a remarkably quick transition and throw to turn a double play.
It’s obviously way too early to reasonably evaluate the trades Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington has made in the past week. It will take at least two or three years to determine the quality of the Bucs’ return.
But it’s hard to argue that the post-Bay era could have started out any better in Pittsburgh.