After Rough April Karns Sees Real Progress In Month Of May
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Nate Karns in an offseason trade with the Washington Nationals. The price to obtain the right handed starter was catcher Jose Lobaton and minor leaguue prospects Felipe Rivero (LHP) and Drew Vettleson (OF).
Karns was drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 draft and immediately underwent shoulder surgery delaying the start of his professional career until 2011.
In his first full minor league season in 2012 he split time between the Nationals Class A affiliate Hagerstown Suns and their High-A affiliate Potomac Nationals posting a 11-4 mark with a 2.17 ERA in 24 games (18 starts).
He spent the 2013 season with the Washington National Double-A affiliate Harrisburg Senators where he made 23 starts (132.2 IP) and posted a record of 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA striking out 155 batters while walking just 48. Despite not touching the Triple-A level the Nationals called him up to make three starts at the major league level.
Through nine starts with the Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls he has posted a record of 2-2 record with a 5.49 ERA. While he is striking out more than a batter an inning (10.1 K/9) he has struggled to limit the walks (4.9 BB/9).
He has been a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the Bulls. A total of 23 of his 27 earned runs, 15 of his 25 walks, 5 of his 7 home runs allowed, and 25 of his 43 hits allowed came in just four starts comprising only 14.2 of his 46.1 innings of work.
The month of April was not kind to him as he made a total of five starts and posted a record of 2-2 with an 8.20 ERA (24ER/26.1IP) and the opposition posted a triple slash line against him of .297/.398/.574 with six home runs.
The good news is that he has turned things around through three May starts.
Although he has not recorded a decision he has an ERA of 1.35 (3ER/20IP) has struck out 19, walked seven, and hit a batter. He has held the opposition to a slash line against of .188/.269/.275 and only allowed one home run.
If he can maintain the type of consistent outings exhibited thus far this month he could insert himself into the conversation as the first guy to replace an injured or ineffective starter.
A quick check on the players the Rays gave up. Jose Lobaton has played in 23 games and garnered 87 plate appearances and posted a triple slash line of .241/.310/.354 and has thrown out 41% (7 of 17) of those attempting to steal against him.
While the Nationals are happy with the production received by their backup catcher the same can not be said for Felipe Rivero who has struggled with their Double A affiliate Harrisburg Senators posting a 1-5 record with a 5.04 ERA in six starts.
Drew Vettleson had his season interrupted after nine games due to suffering a broken hand after being hit by a pitch by Reading Fightin Phils left hander Jesse Biddle. The exact injury is a fractured pisiform bone, a small rounded carpal bone situated where the palm of the hand meets the outer edge of the wrist (More On Vettleson Here).