Cactus League: Nate Karns Has an Opportunity

marc w · March 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

M’s vs. Texas 1:05pm
Nate Karns vs. Victor Payano

It was just an administrative tweet, but it’s indicative of something. MLB Roster Resource, a website that tracks/projects the active and 40-man roster for each team flipped James Paxton and Nate Karns in the M’s projected roster. Those outsiders who are really, really focused on the details of the roster now give Karns the upper hand. Now, they, like all of us, don’t actually get to make that determination, and you can quibble with their projections at 1B or the bench, but Paxton’s poor start yesterday really does seem to give Nate Karns the upper hand. It wasn’t one of those crazy Arizona days where any fly ball has a chance to become a HR. Paxton’s control and command were off, and that’s more concerning, especially at this stage of camp. As I’ve said, Karns hasn’t done a whole lot to make this decision an easy one. He’s been steady, but the lack of whiffs is something to watch, and while there must be mitigating circumstances, he’s a strikeout pitcher, and it’d be nice to see that reflected in his results.

Bob Dutton says that the bullpen’s an option for the loser of the Karns/Paxton battle, and that Karns may be a better fit for the ‘pen, particularly now that Mike Montgomery is pitching in a relief role. That may be true, and it’s all the more reason for Karns to try and make his case for the 5th rotation spot air-tight.

His job should be a bit easier today, as the M’s face a split-squad Rangers club. His opposing starter is a youngster who just made AA last year, and got rocked by the Texas League. He threw a couple of pitches in spring training 3 years ago, so the last time we saw him, he was…well, a Jerry Dipoto-style arm, with a straight, over-the-top fastball and a big, big curve ball. This hasn’t helped him get strikeouts in the minors, mind you, but it does explain why he’s been something of a fly ball pitcher.

1: Aoki, LF
2: Marte, SS
3: Seager, 3B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Lind, 1B
6: Gutierrez, DH
7: Iannetta, C
8: O’Malley, 2B
9: Martin, CF
SP: Karns

Speaking of roster moves, the M’s sent three players to AAA today: C Mike Zunino (that was expected), OF Boog Powell (maybe/sorta expected) and RP Cody Martin (only unexpected because so many relievers are still hurt). Charlie Furbush sounds like he’s responding to rest, and should be ready to pitch in a Cactus League game by tomorrow night.


One Response to “Cactus League: Nate Karns Has an Opportunity”

  1. Dennisss on March 19th, 2016 8:43 am

    It may have been weak competition, but 7 strikeouts, 1 run in 4 and 2/3 innings probably helped Karns’ case.

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