And, oh yeah, he was also pitching a perfect game.
Karstens later scored on a Doug Mientkiewicz double, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead over the Diamondbacks. It was one more run than the right-hander would actually need.
Chris Young broke up the perfect game with a double smoked down the left-field line in the bottom of the eighth, but Karstens finished off the shutout, despite clearly tiring in the ninth. It was a terrific effort, obviously. This was his final line: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K.
I'll admit to checking the free agent pool in my NL-only league, looking for Karstens. But he was already owned by a Pittsburgh fan, a guy who's only made nine transactions this year. One of those adds just happened to be Karstens, who arrived as compensation when Xavier Nady went to the AL in the six-player Pirates-Yankees trade.
But you don't care about my fantasy portfolio. When a widely-available pitcher flirts with perfection -- and it's not Karsten's first scoreless outing recently -- then we need to talk about him. The 25-year-old Karstens wasn't the centerpiece for Pittsburgh in the Marte/Nady deal; that was 19-year-old outfielder Jose Tabata. However, he wasn't quite a throw-in, either. Karstens was 6-4 at Triple-A this year with a 3.80 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 55 Ks in 68.2 innings. So that's not too shabby. But the Ks have never accompanied him to the majors.
In 72.1 MLB innings, he's struckout 27 hitters and walked 25. He's a flyball pitcher who threw strikes today (or pitches that looked like strikes) and coaxed a few regrettable swings. He also gave up eight flyouts to center, some of which weren't badly hit.
Young's postgame comments should tell you what you really need to know about Karstens' stuff:
The Diamondbacks grudgingly gave the pitcher credit. Young called it “a very weird” near no-hitter.
"We had a lot of deep flyouts," he said. "I mean, we were on him. But it was his day. That’s the only way I can explain it. He definitely gave us some pitches to hit."
And there's the bottom line. Karstens isn't a pitcher who's going to avoid contact often enough to be owned in mixed leagues. None of his pitches are really overpowering, and the Bucs face a bunch of tough lineups in August and September.
Still, thousands of you are adding him. He'd been picked up in nearly 14,000 Yahoo! leagues as of 11:30 PM Central.
Good luck, streak-riders. Karstens is probably going to leave a mark.
With that, we move to other notes on lightly-owned players...
• Chris Perez's save against the Dodgers seemed like a Pre-Closing Time event, so we posted earlier. Perez just returned to the Cardinals bullpen after undergoing a little maintenance at Triple-A, and he went 1.2 innings for his first career save. There's no question that he has the traditional closer's heat. His fastball was 95-97 mph in the ninth. Check the elation in the game thread at Viva El Birdos.
• Gio Gonzalez had a messy first inning in his debut today: line-out, K, double, walk, homer, single, fly-out. But then he settled himself and retired 15 of the next 16 hitters over five hitless innings. "He pitched awesome," said Kurt Suzuki. Not that he was going to say anything bad. Gonzalez finished with four strikeouts and two walks. He's still more interesting than Karstens for fantasy purposes.
Shaun Marcum had his first solid start since returning from the DL. He went seven innings, allowed three hits, and struck out seven.
• There's an excellent post with excellent comments over at USS Mariner right now dealing with Brandon Morrow's conversion to starting. If you felt as bad
ly as I did about having to drop Morrow yesterday, it's necessary reading.
The Mariners' schedule in championship week is friendly -- at KC, at OAK, vs. LAA (post-clinch), vs. OAK -- so it's possible that Morrow will have a useful start or two down the stretch. There's work to do on his secondary pitches, though, and Seattle can't reasonably allow Morrow many more innings this year. Anyway, follow the link. Good discussion.
• The Rays had a signature win on Wednesday, and Masa Kobayashi really had a signature loss. Scott covered the Cleveland bullpen situation thoroughly already. If you're investing in anyone there, it's clearly Rafael Perez.
• I'd ask if anyone streamed Brandon Backe against the Cubs today (3.1 IP, 9 H, 11 ER, 6 BB, 0 K), but it's not like any of you cowards would admit it if you did. Ryan Theriot left the game after fouling a ball off his foot, but Lou Piniella says "He's fine." Nothing to fret about.
“He pitched better,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He had his best velocity since I’ve been here. He walked those (two) guys in the third inning and they scored, but he did throw the ball better.”
“He’ll bat No. 1, and he’ll play every day. I can tell you that,” (Ron) Gardenhire said
Span went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and a steal. He also made this catch.
• Lefty John Danks had a useful effort against the Tigers, going 6.2 innings, allowing four hits, and striking out six. He'd allowed four runs or more in his previous four starts, but he's now 9-4 and his ERA is 3.21.
Brandon Boggs would likely get first opportunity to replace Murphy in the lineup. Nelson Cruz, who has been tearing up the Pacific Coast League, is not a candidate because he is on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle.
Photos via AP