KKKarns to AAA?



The sportswriters sounded as eager as anybody to shed Nate Karns.  They asked Servais hopefully, you got some healthy pitchers coming back, any chance one of them could pitch for Karns next time?  (They asked the question in journo-speak, of course, but the spirit was clear.  There's nothing a sportswriter hates more than an un-brisk baseball game.  Sometimes you suspect that maybe they forget that they're living their childhood dreams?)

But!  Servais was as hard to read as Doyle Brunson.  He smiled, well, we just want as many healthy pitchers as we can get ... he found some way to pick his words (can't remember how) to say we're not looking at that right now.  Very neutrally, not opening the door for Karns' exit and neither voting him confidence.  Honestly couldn't tell whether he'd thought about it or not.  

Probable explanation:  that's DiPoto's decision primarily.  Which leaves Servais genuinely deflecting the Q.  And it says here that Jerry DiPoto is higher on Nathan Karns than Dr. D is.


Now, and only now, Dr. Detecto would vote along with you towards a move to AAA.  Tonight was the first time I thought he battled his own command to this extent.  He got out of the third, and got a nice rest between innings, and then came out for the fourth ... 

First pitch to Brandon Moss, he spun out towards 1B and sailed the ball high and wide.  I went, uh-oh.  Blowers was as silent as the grave.

Karns spent the next two innings wishing he could sell his firstborn to throw the ball anywhere near the strike zone.  His vaunted curve was missing by a mile, he was behind in the count all the time, and frankly he looked a little bit Rick Ankiel.  Like, the first 3% of the way.

The last four starts when he went 4, 4, 5, 5 innings, we thought it was mostly circumstances.  But this time he definitely had some "Oh, no, here we go again" glistening in those trickles of sweat running down his sideburns.  The pressure on him has been enough to crinkle the tinfoil, perhaps.



Question was axed, what's so hard about watching Karns this last five starts?  

In baseball, "command" doesn't mean (only) location in the zone.  It means getting the ball to do what you want it to do.  Without command there is no pitch sequencing.  And you wind up watching something that is kind of like if the Seahawks took the snap and ran around wondering whether to go left or right or assume the fetal position...

When a pitcher is coherent, and the batter is in between, and the pitcher is selecting his weapons from one pitch to the next, you have a subplot going.  There is seldom anything appealing about chaos.

Listen to Curt Schilling call a game sometime.  He gets annoyed by ONE pitch that has no purpose within an at-bat.  It's a tribute to Karns' stuff that he's 6-and-2 with MOST pitches having no purpose within an at-bat.



Earlier, Dr. D had tongue-in-cheekly admonished Servais for yanking Karns (with 0 ER) one out before he had a chance for a W.  In the '80s and '90s this would have been a Piniella-like rebuke.  Mike Blowers once got yanked in the middle of an AB because Lou didn't like one of his swings.  Blowers never held it against Lou, that we know of.  Partly that Blowers is classy, partly because only 2% of coaches can pull that off the way Piniella could.

But Servais was a decade ahead of Dr. D, not a decade behind, and Servais was going by the F/X release points only.  The drop in release point gets to 3", Karns is out of there.  It's super cool to know the game is staying ahead of you as a fan; it keeps you from feeling stale.

The point is, this time with 4.2 innings done, they went out to the mound after Karns had passed his Point of No Return.  They slapped him on the shoulder, with the game on the line and runners on base, and said "Let's get you this W, Nate.  One more batter.  Go get him."  Karns dug deep and found the yellow hammer to fan the last hitter, and his record went to 6-2.

So, my bad for questioning Servais earlier.



Lots of Think Tank sentiment towards using Karns as a Scot Shields-type 2 IP, 3 IP type relief stud.  Lest you grok Dr. D as being opposed to this, leave us remind you of the March R/X towards using Paxton and/or Karns in that role.  Got nothing against it except that 200-K starters don't grow on trees.  :- )

Come to think of it, a bullpen stint would serve the same purpose as a trip to AAA, wouldn't it?  :: daps ::


Let's get some of that Cardinal Way player development salve on the burn here, what say.  Same stuff you gave Paxton.

Nothing that happened in the previous four starts bothered me at all.  But this time, I didn't like the look of Karns' self-belief, and if they give him a month to get right there will be no complaints here.  

Not to say Nathan Karns isn't still my second-favorite pitcher.  :- )  He is.







Last night I Shouted that Karns' two-strike love with his curveball was driving me nuts.  Twice in the 3rd inning he had guys to two-strike and eventually walked them because (in my view) He Just wanted To Get Them Out With The Curve!!!!  It was almost as if he believed that he could set the rest of the game up IF he just eephused some guy into the ground in the 3rd or 4th inning.  He couldn't find a barn door with it, especially as an out pitch, yet he kept chucking it, almost insisting that it was his out pitch.

Maybe on another night.  Not last night.  I honest-to-goodess felt that he lost his rhythm and cool by loving his curve so much. And once rhythm and cool are gone, well then even Kipling knew things were going to be a struggle. 

I thought Clevenger was terrible through that stretch, btw.  We were up 5-0, nobody had put good wood on the fastball and yet he kept putting down two fingers in two-strike situations.  If Karns was shaking off the two-strike fastball then Clevenger should had sauntered out to the mound and, in a realpolitik manner,  have politely explained:  "Your curveball is crap tonight, this ain't spring training and we've got a big lead so at two-strikes I'm just putting down one finger and you hit the mitt.  Got it meat?"*

OK...Maybe not the meat part.  But back in the Johnny Bench-Thurman Munson day, before SABR-dudes tried to quantify pitch framing, folks looked to a catcher's pitch calling abilities as some/much of the difference between a Dick Dietz and Johnny Greatest Ever.    IMHO, Clevenger "Dietzed" it last night, in that regard....at least when Karns was on the hill.  What do you bet that Bench "straightened out" a Don Gullet a time or two?

A sizable part of greatness (or pretty goodness) on the mound isn't just the quality of pitches that you have but also the presence of mind to know when you don't have a pitch that particular outing:  See Felix.   I thought Karns was too much in love with his "curveball as out pitch" and it just happened to be a fickle little tart last night. It was running around on him. But his heater was pretty darn good early in the game, you will remember.  Seems to me that I read somewhere that staked to a 5 run early lead you started challenging hitters, making them beat you with the ball in play.  Wasn't that the idea, going all the way back to Three-Finger Brown? But that curveball is kind of the Karns trademark, or was when we got him. He likes it.  It is his Precious.

Staked to that lead,Thurman Munson would have fired a return throw right at his noggin, with heat and intent to get his attention, then would have put one finger down time and again..

Didn't Crash Davis do something like that to Nuke Laloosh?

Sometimes a pitcher has a wiggly weapon that he's too in love with.....even on nights when it is elsewhere. On those nights, just show it sparingly and then go with what you've got working.  It isn't like Karns has a Moyer-like fastball, after all.

So, that was my diagnosis last night...starting from the back to back walks, both when he was ahead in the count with 2 strikes, in the 3rd.  Even the 1st one was bothersome.....but the 2nd drove me bonkers.  I'm laying 60% of the blame at the feet of Karns and Clevenger gets the rest.

Both seemed to be enamored with the "art" of pitching. forgetting that they were in the middle of a battle with the enemy on the run.  

At that point Patton, Grant, Jackson and Sun Tzu would have smashed into the Cards with the heavy stuff.

Brigidier General Pinella and Major Munson would have, too.  I have the sense that Gunnery Sarge Zunino would have, as well.

One of those guys would have helped us last night.  

God bless Monty, by the way.  Not Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, mind you...but the one that we have.  He pitches with a purpose.

Go team.




The whole idea is that you can afford to put the ball in play and take your BABIP chances - they've got about 17 bases to make up.  Yet here he was, overthinking it again.

The first two innings were much more straightforward.  Great catch on that.

Also the glass-half-full posse gains hope from the thought, since the issue would be one of experience.


Because the curve is the hardest to locate in baseball, if you don't have it on a given day, you're usually dead meat.  It's why Boomer Wells had a top notch change-up, Roy Halladay had the sinker/change attack he could use, K-Pax has his cutter, Mussina had the change/slider, and Aaron Sele had a 4.00 ERA most years (because he didn't have an alternative and therefore blew up about one time out of five).

Karns should work on a change-up or something because otherwise he is going to be maddeningly inconsistent.


And if he doesn't trust it enough, what's the problem with throwing it to break outside the strike zone?  Having watched Karns, I've often thought the same thing, that he should mix his changeup more, with careful location.

Right now F/X shows him as having thrown the change 11% of the time.  Fairly mainstream for a third pitch, but maybe 18% would have a disproportionate impact on his game.


I think Karns is a "Tweener". But I also would LOVE to have both Karns and Montgomery in the 'Pen next time Walker's flat feet start barking at him. 

In short stints, maybe he wouldn't be so concerned with having "all his pitches" and just spot the heater.


Along the lines of Moe's comment.

Montgomery also has seemed comfortable attacking with the fastball, out of the 'pen for 1-2 innings, and his offspeed stuff has really played up as a result.

It's not like Nate Karns is Aaron Sele, trying to make a mediocre fastball work.  He could deploy the same strafing-runs idea.  Might well turn a light bulb on for him, help him jell.


M's website shows Miley back in there Wed, but TBA on Thursday.  Which would be LeBlanc's or Taijuan's spot, with Karns' the day after that.  So they're well positioned to make their choices.

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