Another Shot for Karns?

Photo courtesy Ash Marshall /

Photo courtesy Ash Marshall /

The old adage says that bad things comes in threes. This past weekend the Washington Nationals were hit with a triple shot of troublesome news when Ross Ohlendorf landed on the disabled list, Ross Detwiler’s balky back might prevent his return in 2013, and Taylor Jordan has roughly only four starts left until he hits his innings limit.

Unless Mike Rizzo pulls the trigger on a waiver claim or August trade, a door appears to be opening for another pitcher in the organization. Beat writers have bandied around a bunch of names including Nate Karns, Danny Rosenbaum, Tanner Roark, Caleb Clay, Ryan Tatusko, and even Taylor Hill. Of those listed, only Karns wouldn’t require a corresponding move to the 40-man roster and that may play heavily in his favor. That factor, however, should not diminish the reality that Karns has been a better and more consistent pitcher since returning to Harrisburg from his three-game Major League stint.

Senators’ pitching coach Paul Menhart has been pleased with Karns’ progress, “If he was the one to get the call today, I would feel more comfortable with where he is. I think he has made improvements in the stuff that we were working on prior to the original (call-up).”

When he first returned to Harrisburg, Karns worked in bullpen sessions on slowing the game down and slowing his body down to allow the pitch to explode at the end. Senators’ manager Matt LeCroy saw it then from the imposing right hander, “I think he’s starting to make some adjustments that when he gets another chance to go to the big leagues will make him a lot better than what he was.”

Menhart points to another area of improvement, “I think the biggest thing is his commanding of the fastball. If he does what he did Saturday night where the minimal mistakes that he did make don’t hurt him, he’ll survive at any level. He has to be able to get away with some of those because I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to command the fastball the way we all want him to. He’s a full-effort kind of guy and he’s going to make mistakes. But with his change-up and curveball if he can get away with a couple of those elevated fastballs, he could pitch at any level.”

Tale of the Tape

Prior to MLB call-up After MLB call-up
Starts 9 9
ERA 4.50 2.41
WHIP 1.283 0.982
H/9 8.02 5.46
Opponent AVG .241 .179
Opponent OBP .318 .271
Opponent SLG .418 .289
Innings per Start 5.1 6.2
Pitches per Inning 16.8 15.8
Pct of Strikes 62.8% 63.3%
GB/FB 0.70 0.75
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