Kuhl was tagged for three homers and eight earned runs in 2.1 innings Saturday, He walked three while striking out three batters.
Although he's allowed 11 earned runs in his last two outings (4.2 innings), Kuhl is expected to start 2018 in Pittsburgh's starting rotation. The righty collected 142 strikeouts in 157.1 innings last year, though his earned run average (4.35) and WHIP (1.47) didn't help fantasy owners. Kuhl increased his fastball velocity from 93.2 mph to 95.5 mph from 2016 to 2017. His control suffered, however, with walks jumping from 2.6 BB/9 to 4.1 BB/9. As a result, Kuhl rates as an interesting end-game pick, though he's just as likely to hurt fantasy owners as help.
Kuhl appears to be in line for a rotation spot to start the season, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports.
The hard-throwing righty saw his fair share of struggles last season, but he finished strong by posting a 3.62 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 in the second half of the season. Overall, his lack of command (4.1 BB/9) and propensity to give up hard contact (36.1 percent) make him relatively unattractive for fantasy purposes, but Kuhl seems to have a rotation job on lockdown nonetheless barring any unforeseen events.
Kuhl (8-11) picked up the win over the Orioles on Wednesday, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk over five-plus innings while strikingt out five.
He hung in after a three-run second inning, but Kuhl got the hook after throwing 80 pitches (48 strikes) and putting the first two Baltimore batters in the sixth on base. He finishes 2017 with a 4.35 ERA, and he'll head into next spring looking to solidify his spot in the Bucs rotation.
Kuhl will start Wednesday's game against the Orioles, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports.
Manager Clint Hurdle dropped Kuhl from the rotation last week in order to clear spots for Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams, but the right-hander will get one final opportunity to start before the season draws to a close. Kuhl's 4.31 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over 152.1 innings this season aren't anything special, but he's trimmed his ERA to 3.49 since the All-Star break while using his mid-90s fastball to generate more than a strikeout per inning. Walking batters remains an issue for Kuhl, but if he's able to make some slight mechanical adjustments over the winter and spring, he could be an intriguing sleeper in deep-league drafts based on his strikeout potential alone.
Kuhl is not scheduled to start a game this weekend against the Cardinals, Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Manager Clint Hurdle named Ivan Nova, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon as his starters against St. Louis, leaving Kuhl as the odd man out. Kuhl allowed four home runs in 4.2 innings in Cincinnati his last time out, lifting his season ERA and WHIP to 4.31 and 1.46, respectively. It's uncertain if he will get another chance to start before the end of the season.
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