Could Mariners have another top-of-rotation starter in Nathan Karns?
May 24, 2016, 6:49 PM | Updated: May 25, 2016, 10:42 am
With the Tampa Bay Rays, Nathan Karns won seven games last year. This year, on May 24, he has the chance to win his fifth game. While wins are hardly the best measure of a pitcher, wins from the fifth spot in a starting rotation are something to be noted.
At 4-1, and with the Mariners winning six of his eight starts, Karns is providing the Mariners with excellent production from the No. 5 spot with a 3.33 ERA and 3.56 FIP. What’s remarkable is we could see better.
Related: Mariners’ Chris Iannetta not stressing over cold May at the plate
“I think that by the end of this year it will turn out to be the best trade that Jerry Dipoto had made over all of the changes,” said Mike Blowers on the Mariners radio pregame show Tuesday. “If you look at Nathan and just his stuff, the fastball typically he is going to sit 92-93, but we have seen him touch 96 and when it is on, he has one of the best curveballs I’ve ever seen. The combination of that and the confidence he has in that curveball is why he is going out and trying to win his fifth game tonight.”
With just one full year in the big leagues (and under club control through the 2020 season), there is still room for growth and development, according to Blowers.
“There are some things in there that he has to learn,” he pointed out. “He’s not as efficient as you would like him to be, but I think that is something he is going to work towards. I think that (Mariners pitching coach) Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has done a good job of giving him a program to where he can command his fastball in between starts when he goes out to throw his bullpen. When you look at all those things and just the stuff he has, sky’s the limit for him. We will just see where he goes from here.”
One thing that should help Karns get deeper in games is another pitch. He will throw a changeup occasionally, but Blowers believes at some point he will look to add another pitch he can go to more often to give him a different look later in games.
“I think you are going to see him maybe come up with a slider, maybe cut the fastball a little more. Just something in there when he is working his way through a lineup the third or fourth time that he’s going to need,” he said.
“He’s doing a great job right now, and I think he can get better.”
• The Mariners look to bounce back Tuesday night from a rare series-opening loss. The good news is they got Rich Hill out of the way. Of the 20 wins the A’s have recorded this year, Hill owns seven of them. He is 7-3 with a 2.18 ERA while the rest of the staff has gone 2-17 with an 8.20 ERA in 23 starts.
• Chris Taylor had a rough 2016 debut committing two fielding errors. Shawn O’Malley gets the start tonight at shortstop, but Taylor will be back out there soon. He admitted to nerves last night and Mariners manager Scott Servais believed he saw them in spring training as well. It is something Taylor needs to get past. “Trying to get him to relax. Eventually it has to happen or you don’t play at the big league level. You have to perform,” said Servais. “It’s not pressure, you know everybody deals with it in here. Last night’s game was disappointing, I know Chris wanted to play better. It didn’t happen but he will get other chances.”
• Upcoming pitching probables:Wednesday, Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Oakland RHP Zach Neal; Thursday, off day; Friday, Felix Hernandez vs. Minnesota LHP Pat Dean; Saturday, Wade Miley vs Minnesota RHP Phil Hughes; Sunday, Taijuan Walker vs. Minnesota RHP Ricky Nolasco.