Karns Tosses Seven Shutout In Debut | The Process Report

Karns Tosses Seven Shutout In Debut

Nate Karns made his Rays’ debut Friday night and the result was nothing short of spectacular. Facing a Blue Jays’ lineup that featured mostly regulars, he tossed seven shutout innings, surrendering just two hits and two walks while striking out eight. Rays’ manager Joe Maddon gave him an extended leash, allowing him to toss 114 pitches of which 72 were strikes.

Tampa Bay acquired the Karns just before spring training, giving up three quality players in return for the Nationals’ righty. Up until this point, he had spent the entire season in Durham where he tied for the league league in strikeouts. A college arm that has suffered a few injury setbacks, he is older (26) than most prospects which limits his upside; however, what he lacks in ceiling he makes up for with a polished floor.

Karns is every bit of his listed 6’3″, 230 pounds which gives him a solid presence on the mound. He worked almost exclusively with a two-pitch mix: a mid-90s fastball and a hard, knuckle curveball around 10 miles slower. He came to the Rays equipped with these pieces, but command was a question mark. Against Toronto, he showed a firm grasp of both offerings.

The fastball topped out at 96.5 mph according to ESPN Stats & Info. with an average speed of 94. Heaters comprised most of his pitches and went for a strike 66 percent of the time. He recorded 17 of 21 outs with it including six of the eight punchouts. Even with some arm-side run to it, Karns had a solid grip on the corners. He worked primarily away to batters on both sides of the plate, but showed he can run it inside to left-handers when he wants.

In the third inning, he struck out Anthony Goss looking on a 95-mph fastball that darted the inside corner. The pitched followed one of the two changeups he threw on the evening. Even with long limbs, Karns has a rather short arm action which limits the look that left-handers like Gose can get before he releases the ball. In total, he registered three called strikeouts with the fastball including a 96-mph heater on the outside corner that froze Jose Bautista in the sixth.

When he was not throwing the fastball, Karns relied on a power curveball. The hook was thrown 27 times which included 15 strikes; four of those being swings and misses. The right-hander buried the breaking ball low in the zone on a consistent basis.

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Karns particularly liked the pitch in even counts when hitters were perhaps waiting on a fastball. This shows confidence in the offering as some youngters would shy away in fear of falling behind. He registered four outs with the curve: two strikeouts and two groundballs. In the sixth inning, he set up Dioner Navarro with an elevated fastball before inducing a swinging strikeout on an 86-mph curveball down and away.

It is unknown whether Karns will get another look this season. Meanwhile, after first glance it appears as if the Rays have yet another major-league ready starter heading into the 2015 season.



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