As fun as it was to watch Pittsburgh Pirates ace A.J. Burnett mow hitters down in 2012, Jeff Karstens provided the same level of entertainment. It just didn’t happen enough. But we think if Karstens stays healthy and focuses on a weakness from his 2012 season, the couple million bucks Bob Nutting begrudgingly forked over for the California kid will look like a major bargain.
If you come here often, you know that Karstens is a personal favorite of ours. It’s been that way for quite some time now. Yeh, we’re damn proud of the autographed bat signed by the 6’4″ 185-pounder that hangs on the wall at our six pack shop. Especially after the improvement the right hander has shown the past few seasons.
The success for the 30-year old comes from his trusty curveball which he relied on more than he ever had–tossing it 21 percent of the time in 2013. And if you watch the video below, you can see just how much he throws his nastiness when he has two strikes. The number is pretty staggering at 30 percent when he had two strikes, but just how effective was it? The lanky righty was able to get 10.4 percent swinging strikes last year almost a three percent jump in his numbers.
In the video above–which is a beauty–the left-handed hitters of the Houston Astros didn’t cooperate with the point we’re about to make. Three things are holding Karstens back from becoming an above-average starter.
2. Left-handed batters.
Should Karstens be able to bounce back and soon transition from rehabbing his arm to getting on the mound at McKechnie Field, 2013 could be a very interesting season. The righty will throw against some minor leaguers this week as he begins the process of standing atop the bump once again. It’s not hard to fathom him getting a start next week should everything stay on pace.
In 2012, Karstens improved his changeup, but the lefties still caused him pain. The changeup was relied upon 22 percent of the time when facing left-handed hitters while only six percent against right handers.
But check out this graph from Baseball Prospectus that shows, from the catchers perspective, the location of Karstens pitches against lefties.
It almost appears that one-third of the plate can’t be covered effectively by Karstens when he faces left-handed hitters. It might be due to the fact that Karstens delivers from the third-base side of the pitching rubber with a deliberately closed delivery. It’s pretty hard for the laid back Karstens to attack left-handed hitters inside due to these two factors.
Well, except when he drops that curveball on their backfoot. Well, that’s all we got. Keep an eye on Karstens placement on the rubber next week, pay attention to his success and location of his pitches against left-handers too.
What are we going to do now? We’re going to go watch the Karstens video again. Get well quick Jeff!
Bonus coverage of the hits allowed off Karstens in 2012.
Watch Shane Victorino rip a single up the middle. Pay close attention to Karstens’ reaction at the :05 mark…
Here is Victorino (notice his position in the box) ripping a double off Karstens:
Lefties triples: NONE
Watch Stephen Drew turn on a Karstens pitch left in the middle-middle of the plate.
Watch Jimmy Rollins put it off the Budweiser sign. Bomb.