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Should Jeff Karstens Stay In Pirates' Rotation?

Neil Walker picked up five RBIs Friday on the night before his bobblehead night as the Pirates won 10-1. It's far too late to do a real recap (although I did a nuts-and-bolts one here), but I watched the game until the Tigers broke up Jeff Karstens' perfect game in the fifth.

Speaking of which, I wonder if Karstens will get to keep his rotation spot when Ross Ohlendorf gets back. It may be a while before that happens, so this could be an academic exercise, but I'm still interested in it because of how well Karstens has pitched. He still allows a ton of homers, but other than that, he's having a terrific year, with a 3:1 K:BB ratio and a 3.36 xFIP. The Pirates currently have the luxury of not really having anyone in their rotation who obviously deserves to be bumped. The only guy who has really struggled this year has been James McDonald, and he appears to be back on track after a rough April. So is there anyone whose spot Ohlendorf really deserves?

A lot of folks here aren't fans of Karstens, and I'm not either. He's playing at the peak of his abilities now, and he's more likely to slide back into the 4.8-ERA range than to maintain his current pace. He will hopefully be replaced by Brad Lincoln or Rudy Owens at some point this year.

But in the meantime, he's helping the Pirates win, and I don't think Ohlendorf has much more upside for the Pirates than Karstens does. The Pirates control Ohlendorf's rights through 2014, but since he was already arbitration-eligible last offseason and will receive escalating salaries over the next three years, it's unlikely he'll stay with the Bucs that whole time. If he's going to be in the rotation, it should be because of what he can do now. If he isn't the best option now, he should be in the bullpen. Having Ohlendorf in the rotation doesn't bother me, but both he and Karstens are just placeholders until better options arrive. Karstens is pitching well right now, and I don't mind letting him stay on as a starter until he turns back into a pumpkin.