It was only a matter of time. You can’t keep running a guy out there who can’t get past the 5th inning. Not when you’re already rolling with guys like Paxton, Walker, Miley, and Iwakuma, who can all fall apart at any time. Karns has only been able to mask it to this point with his solid win/loss record, which is mostly due to the high run support he’s been getting.
In his place, Wade LeBlanc gets a shot. Hard to kill the move given what Karns has given us this year. In 15 starts, Karns has gone 5 innings or less nine times, including 7 of the last 8 outings. And, oh yeah, Karns has yet to go beyond 7 innings in a start this season.
On the flipside, the Mariners have two soft-tossing lefties in the rotation named Wade. While that is almost certainly a Major League record, it CAN’T be a recipe for successful baseball!
Oddly enough, Karns has Karns to thank for not being sent down to Tacoma. All of his bungled starts have led to the bullpen being over-worked, which has exposed the flaws in that area of our pitching staff, which ultimately has led management to believe Karns is better served in a long relief type role. If it were up to me, he’d be in AAA trying to figure out how to not walk so many guys the third time through the lineup, and to avoid The Big Inning in general, but beggars can’t be choosers. The bullpen needs to be improved, and the Major League roster takes precedence over individual player development.
Ultimately, I don’t think Karns is going to hack it as a starter. He doesn’t really have a change up to speak of, so he’s primarily a fastball/curveball guy. That’s going to hurt him unless he figures out how to pitch with pinpoint control. What I’m REALLY afraid of is that he’s not going to hack it as a reliever either. One would hope he’d gain some velocity while being used in shorter bursts. But, it’s not like he’s got an out-pitch that’s worth a damn. He projects more as a Yoervis Medina type than anyone, and as you can plainly see, that’s not a compliment.
Is this the beginning of the end for ol’ Karnsyboy? My guess is: yes.
Will Wade LeBlanc be the man to right the ship? My guess is: HURRY BACK FELIX!