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Ray Searage: “Jeff Karstens Is Pirates Pitching MVP”

(Photo credit: J. Meric/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: J. Meric/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA)–For the first half of the season, the Pirates pitching coach believes Jeff Karstens is the pitching MVP.

“Because of the way he fills in and took the bull by the horns and ran with it,” said Ray Searage about his reasoning behind why Karstens would be the pitching MVP. “He ain’t letting it go.”

Searage joined The Fan Morning Show Friday, saying Karstens loves to prove people wrong, and the 29-year-old has done exactly that this year. Karstens’ (7-4) season ERA is 2.55 in 19 games, compared to his 4.50 career ERA over 108 games.

Searage replaced Joe Kerrigan on Aug. 8, 2010 as the Pirates pitching coach. Karstens has been a joy to work with, Searage said on The Fan.

“Karstens is very focused, even when he’s not in the game,” he said. “When he’s in the dugout, he’s always watching things and picking up things.”

With just three games remaining until the halfway point in the season, Searage is aware he needs to prevent his pitching staff from becoming fatigued. One way Searage’s staff does this is by watching the pitch count and starts.

“I have already put in an implication where our sidelines are either skipped and they just do some flat ground and long toss, or if they do do a sideline, it’s modified to a lower pitch count just to stay sharp,” Searage said. “We have to keep track of that.”

Searage’s philosophy for his pitchers is not to change them, rather use what they bring to the staff to make them better.

Manager Clint Hurdle and Searage plan to meet before the All-Star Game to discuss whether the pitching rotation will change after the break.

“This way they can do their work, during that three, four-day span accordingly,” Searage said. “We haven’t really finalized anything as of yet because we wanted to see how the next couple games went.”

Searage added he wants his players to enjoy themselves during the break.

“I want them to relax, but I also want them to stay in focus and keep that switch still on, but put the dimmer light on a little bit so when we get back in Houston on Thursday they can turn it back up again,” he said.

Additionally, Searage talked to The Fan about Charlie Morton, who lasted 5 1-3 innings June 6 against the Houston Astros. The game was Morton’s fifth straight start lasting less than six innings. The Pirates have won only two of Morton’s last six starts.

Searage said the five innings he threw Wednesday were outstanding but, “In the sixth, I could just see his stuff getting a little bit less sharper and he was coming up in the zone,” he said. “I know that we’re on the right track, and this break couldn’t come at a better time for him also.”


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