Chad Kuhl once was part of the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation. On Monday, the right-hander returns to face his original team when the Colorado Rockies open a road series.
Kuhl was slated to start over the weekend in a home series against the New York Mets -- the Rockies dropped two ofthree to New York and have lost 10 of 13 overall -- but weather disruptions pushed his turn back to Monday.
"A lot of good memories, good people and good times. Seeing former teammates and coaches," Kuhl told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
There might be one caveat to those good memories. Kuhl was on the rise for the Pirates before Tommy John surgery in 2018.
He came back and was Pittsburgh's Opening Day starter in 2021, going 5-7 with a 4.82 ERA last year, but only half of his 28 appearances were starts. By this past offseason he and the Pirates clashed over his role -- the team was interested in bringing him back as a reliever.
So Kuhl moved on to Colorado, where he signed a one-year, $3 million contract and is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in seven starts. He has 30 strikeouts against 13 walks and a career-best 1.18 WHIP.
"No offense to anybody who's starting in Pittsburgh right now, but I felt like I was worthy of being in the starting rotation," Kuhl told the Post-Gazette. "That's kind of what the whole thing was about.
"No bad blood or anything like that. It just gave me an opportunity to start somewhere else."
Kuhl is scheduled to face a good friend, Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (0-4, 5.50 ERA).
Brubaker is coming off a tough loss Tuesday, when he struck out a career-high 10 batters but gave up six runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings against the host Chicago Cubs.
Beyond the numbers, Brubaker said he felt like he shook the effects of a recent illness.
"Finally felt like I was getting back to where I was in spring training, earlier in the year, after being sick," he said. "Strength, energy, everything was clicking on time. It felt like it was all back."
Against Colorado, Brubaker has made one career start, pitching six scoreless innings in a 7-0 win last May 29 in Pittsburgh.
Overall, the Pirates are struggling about as much as they have all season.
Pittsburgh is coming off not only a weekend sweep at home at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals, but also an 18-4 pasting Sunday where the Pirates' runs came in the ninth with veteran catcher Yadier Molina pitching and St. Louis lost its starter to injury after just four pitches.
"We have to play better," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. "We just didn't play very well. We didn't play well in the series.
"We have to be better offensively. I mean, they lose their starter, they go to a bullpen day, and we don't have good at-bats."
The Pirates have lost five of six with a total of 14 runs scored in those six games.
--Field Level Media