Embrace the Karnage

Tony Cingrani, Shelby Miller, Kevin Gausman, Jose Fernandez, Julio Teheran
and now, Nate Karns. These are all top pitching prospects in their respective
organizations that teams have turned to this season when they either lost a
veteran pitcher via free agency or trade or due to injury, and instead of
turning to another veteran pitcher they instead turned inwards and filled the
need with a talented youth. Karns is just another name out of many pitchers
that will debut this season, and teams are being more aggressive than ever in
promoting pitching prospects to the majors. Maybe that is because the new breed
is that much more talented than the old guard or maybe it is because they just
want to see what they have internally. 

Some of the young pitchers rushed to
the majors have flourished like Miller and Cingrani while others like Teheran
and Fernandez have had their struggles, but all of them have given glimpses of
promising days ahead, and the Nats are hoping Karns can do that for them. The
Nats as a team have lacked something. They have played like they are stuck in
neutral, just out of gear, and hovering around .500 are in need of a boost to
start moving in a positive direction. It is unlikely that Karns can provide
that in his, spot start, major league debut, but maybe seeing someone excited
to be at the major league level will ignite something in the rest of the

Now onto Karns himself. Karns last
season pitched to a 2.17 ERA over 116 innings split between low A and high A,
he amassed a 11.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9, and earned himself the award as the
Nationals minor league pitcher of the year. Karns is known as a hard thrower
with a big breaking ball who can miss bats. Not only does he miss bats but over
194 batters faced this season he has given up just 11 line drives. Hitters not
only swing and miss at his stuff, but when they do put it in play they have
trouble squaring him up. These are all good qualities in a pitcher and while
his 4.60 ERA may seem high minor league ERA’s can be deceptive due to poor
field conditions and poor fielders. Karns is doing what you look for a pitcher
to do in missing bats and more importantly missing the barrel of the bat.

As far as how deep Karns can be
expected to pitch this evening he has finished the sixth inning in four of his
nine starts this season and his major league debut is likely to be a five and
dive affair unless he really has the good stuff going. He has pitched through
the seventh just once this season. The good news on him though is that he has
continued to strike batters out and has four starts with at least eight
strikeouts and an 11.0 K/9 on the season. The Orioles line-up is a tough one to
navigate and it is asking a lot of a kid in his major league debut to shut them
down. The Nats offense is going to have to back him up, but that will be tough
to do without Harper. The Nats have won just one game without Harper.

It should be an exciting time at the park
tonight. It is always fun to see a major league debut. They only happen once
and Karns is just the latest in a long list of prospect pitchers who are
getting a shot this season. Let’s hope his debut is more Tony Cingrani than
Kevin Gausman, and let’s also hope that Kevin Gausman’s second MLB start goes
about as well as his first where he gave up four runs in four innings to the
Blue Jays. The Nats have to get something going offensively and there is no
better time to do it than when backing up a talented young pitcher making his
MLB debut.




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