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 Nats. 

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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