Today's Matchup: Pirates (Karstens) at Brewers (Narveson)

Pull the hood a little further down your face, Jeff.

Perhaps the ugliest player in the MLB, Jeff Karstens (2-1, 3.62), gets the start for the Pirates today.  With a 4.50 FIP, Karstens is having the best season of his career thus far.  In eight games and five starts, he currently has a 6.68 K/9, a 2.78 BB/9, a 1.39 HR/9, and a 3.70 xFIP.  Contrast that to career numbers of a 4.65 K/9, a 2.78 BB/9, 1.33 HR/9 and a 4.90 xFIP, and you can see that while his other peripherals are all in line with his career numbers, he is striking out just over two more hitters per nine innings.  He's also put up these numbers in addition to his BABIP being nearly thirty points higher than his career average.  It might just be possible that Karstens has turned a corner in his career.  He's only pitched over 100 innings twice, often being used in the reliever/sixth starter role. 

According to TexasLeaguers.com's pitch f/x database, Karstens throws a high 80s sinker, a high 80s four seamer, a mid-to-high 70s slider, a high 70s/low 80s changeup and a high 60s/low 70s curveball.  According to fangraphs, only his curveball has been above average over his career, and only his changeup has been above average in 2011.  The righty has faced five different Brewers at least ten times in his career.  Here's how they've fared:

PA Slash Line
Corey Hart 20 .105/.150/.158
Ryan Braun 19 .375/.474/.938
Prince Fielder 18 .214/.389/.786
Rickie Weeks 18 .167/.167/.667
Craig Counsell 14 .200/.357/.400

 

Opposing him, the Brewers have lefty Chris Narveson (1-3, 4.38) lined up.  The Narv-dog started the year strong, going unscored upon his first two starts before giving up three in his third.  Since those first two starts, he has allowed at least three runs in every game he's pitched in, with the worst being April 25 against the Reds when he gave up seven earned runs in just 2.1 innings.

Narveson has a high 80s four seamer, a mid 80s cutter, a low 80s changeup, and mid 70s curve.  Over his career, fangraphs has just his curveball and changeup as slightly above average.  For 2011, though, it's his fastball and change.  He's faced just two pirates at least ten times, with both of them having exactly ten plate appearances.  Garrett Jones has hit .100/.100/.100 and Andrew McCutchen has hit .400/.400/.800 against Narveson. 

Lineups:

2B Rickie Weeks
SS Craig Counsell
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Casey McGehee
RF Mark Kotsay
CF Brandon Boggs
C Jonathan Lucroy
LHP Chris Narveson

Boggs!  No Yuni!  Kotsay?  I'll take it!

And in the Bullpen:

John Axford pitched 1 inning (10 pitches) yesterday.
Marco Estrada pitched 2 innings (31 pitches) yesterday.

Sergio Mitre
pitched 2.2 innings (17 pitches) on Wednesday.
Mike McClendon pitched 1.2 innings (31 pitches) on Wednesday. 
LaTroy Hawkins pitched 1 inning (14 pitches) on Wednesday.
Kameron Loe pitched .1 inning (13 pitches) on Wednesday.
Mitch Stetter faced one batter (2 pitches) on Wednesday.
Brandon Kintzler has not pitched since Wednesday, May 4.

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