Pittsburgh Pirates: Tonight Should be Kuhl’s Last Start

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Editorial: The Pittsburgh Pirates should consider moving Chad Kuhl to the bullpen after his start tonight.  There are multiple reasons to consider.

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Pirates right handed pitcher Chad Kuhl will head to the hill against the Chicago Cubs.  The right hander has had an up and down season so far.  On the year he has pitched 129.1 innings and an earned run average of 4.52.  Over the last month or so, Kuhl has been much more efficient, as he has only allowed more than three runs in one of his last six starts.  Still, he seems to struggle as he gets later into starts and has not improved on some of the issues that plague him.

The biggest issue with Chad Kuhl as a starter is that he struggles against lefties.  This is mainly because he lacks a quality changeup to use against these types of batters.  This year lefties have hit .273 and are getting on base at a high .373 clip.  Even worse, left handed batters are slugging an even .500 against him.  His numbers against righties are much better.  This is mainly because he has a power fastball that approaches 100 miles per hour.  He also has a solid slider that he uses as his out pitch against righties.

He also struggles to pitch deep into games.  This year he has averaged 4.96 innings pitched per start.  So he not only struggles against hitters who bat left handed, but also being efficient in starts has been a struggle.  The most popular idea is to move Kuhl to the bullpen.  As mentioned earlier, his fastball approaches 100 miles per hour when he rears back and cuts it loose.  The thought is that if he is transitioned into a more limited role, Kuhl will be able to really show off his power fastball even more.  Also, the fact he struggles later into games suggest that he can get by when only facing hitters once.  Of course, the last reason is that he can be used in more appropriate spots.  For instance, the Pirates can go to him when the opposing team is sending multiple right handed hitters in a row to the plate.

In a way, a move to the bullpen will also help the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Bucs have a few solid bullpen options, but after Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, and Juan Nicasio, they do not have any power arms that they can really rely on.  Kuhl could fit that spot.  Also, with Nicasio being a pending free agent, the Bucs may not be able to keep him, and Kuhl could effectively replace him going forward.  However, another reason the Bucs should move Kuhl to the bullpen to end the year is because of the amount of innings he has pitched.  Kuhl is a young pitcher who has never had any serious arm issues.  Moving him to the bullpen may help preserve his arm going forward.

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The biggest reason for Kuhl moving to the bullpen might actually be to see what they have next year.  The Bucs would then be able to install Tyler Glasnow back into the rotation.  Glasnow got his feet wet last year and early this year.  He went down to Triple-A and dominated.  It is time to see if he can transition what he was doing at Triple-A to the big leagues.  If he can, then he becomes the immediate replacement for Kuhl next season.  If not, then it could help clear things up of what the Bucs need to do this offseason.