Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens was supposed to make his spring training debut on Sunday, but sometimes the best laid plans go up in smoke. Just hours before he was to toe the rubber he was replaced by Chris Leroux. Kartsens’ shoulder problems were flaring up again and now he will start the season on the disabled list.
Karstens has been a pretty decent pitcher for the Pirates the last two seasons. He has had a 3.59 earned run average and a record of 14-13 in 41 starts. The problem is that the Pirates have been unable to rely on Karstens regularly being on the field and once again that problem rears its hideous head.
So who do the Pirates look at to fill in a rotation that was already on the thin side? It surely won’t be Leroux who allowed seven runs in 1/3 of an inning in his emergency start of Sunday. Assuming that the first four spots are filled by A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and Jeff Locke, the fifth spot will probably fall to Kyle McPherson.
McPherson, a 25 year old right-hander, has just ten games of big league experience. His spring ERA is 8.31 after the Atlanta Braves smacked him around on Wednesday.
Unless the Pirates make a move in the next week, the four and five spots in the rotation are in shaky hands. Bringing Kyle Lohse or Rick Porcello to town would be an answer, but the best answer might be calling up Gerrit Cole. Of course management won’t do that because they don’t want his free agent clock to start yet, so the beginning of this season could get pretty ugly. This is nothing new for Pirates fans.