BRADENTON, Florida (SportsRadio 93-7 The Fan) – Coming off four scoreless innings in a minor league game at Pirate City, 24-year-old Chad Kuhl is becoming a near lock as the fourth starter when the Pirates come north in two weeks.
Kuhl has a 2.57 ERA and 0.57 WHIP this spring, combine that with the inconsistencies of Tyler Glasnow and others, it’s likely Kuhl will be in the rotation.
“It’s very nice having, I guess I would say comfortability knowing that this isn’t a short term thing,” Kuhl said Wednesday. “I will stay here, pitch in more games and get ready for the season instead of just trying to press. It’s just really nice to go out there and go about your business and know you are going to be here for awhile.”
Kuhl said the big advantage is knowing he will get more time with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, instead of working with him and then being moved to another coach or camp.
Kuhl started 14 games last year with the Pirates finishing 5-4 with a 4.20 ERA and that included some memorable moments. His first win was in his first start, as he beat Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball. His first hit was off Chicago 19-game winner Jon Lester and also threw six scoreless against Max Scherzer and the Nationals.
Kuhl is also starting to feel really comfortable with his change-up, saying it’s getting to the point where he has the same confidence as when he throws his slider or fastball.
“This year is a little easier because it’s basically the same grip as my two-seem, it’s just different fingers,” Kuhl said. “Last year, it was like, ‘Ok, let me really dial this one in, let me place this.’ There was a whole thought process behind it. Now, it’s just another one of those pitches where I have a really good feel of where it’s going, how it’s going to come out of my hand. Kind of like how it’s been with my fastball, forever.”
He’s never had the spotlight that was always on Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham and Glasnow. But, the 2013 ninth-round pick as never had a minor league ERA north of 3.5. He once led the Florida State League in wins and usually keeps the ball in the park.
One “First State” native burst onto the Pittsburgh sports scene after a taste in his first year, maybe Kuhl will join Pitt’s Quadree Henderson as an unlikely Delaware connection.