This was my first look at Jeff Karstens as a Pirate, and it was certainly a pleasant introduction, as Karstens took a perfect game into the eighth inning.
Karstens was hardly dominant--he kept too many of his pitches up in the zone, which resulted in approximately eight million fly balls to the warning track and a very busy day for centerfielder Jason Michaels. Karstens' stuff wasn't terrible; he dialed his fastball up to 91 MPH and occasionally threw great changeups. But he was still working mostly on guile. My brother called me while it was in progress to describe it as "the least dominant perfect game ever."
That doesn't mean it wasn't extremely impressive in its own way. This was the kind of start where you could think along with the pitcher: "Okay, he just threw two changeups, so here comes the fastball..." One strikeout of Orlando Hudson was especially impressive this way. I don't know much about Karstens personally, but it wouldn't surprise me if he were a pretty bright guy, because he really seemed to be thinking a couple steps ahead of the Diamondbacks' hitters this afternoon.
Karstens was very efficient and didn't walk anyone, but again, it's more a case of him pounding the zone than an indication of dominant stuff. As Dejan Kovacevic put it today:
One thing about Karstens -- and that one thing would be higher than Arizona's hit total through four innings -- that the Pirates probably will like even when he does not pitch well: This kid appears to have no fear. He is throwing all four pitches for strikes, and it appears he could not care less that they are hit hard or not. Just gets outs. A very jarring sight after much of the other pitching all of us have watched this summer.
This is spot-on, I think. Karstens just throws the ball into the zone and doesn't really worry much what happens after that. He may have outings where he gets pounded, but when he has good outings like the one today, he'll probably be able to work deep into games.
Anyway, Karstens now has 15 innings pitched with the Pirates. He has allowed no runs and has pitched a two-hitter. That's a pretty good return so far on a trade that was supposed to be geared toward the future, eh?