Zoning in on Nathan Karns


Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Vidal Nuño.

Yesterday in this series, we took a look at one of the three players acquired in the big trade with Tampa Bay that kicked off the offseason, and now it’s another: starting pitcher Nathan Karns.

Joining the Mariners from the Rays, where he started 26 games last year, Karns is looking to lock down a rotation spot with a strong Cactus League showing.

As he did with Boog Powell, General Manager Jerry Dipoto made clear why he targeted Karns in his overhaul of the Mariners roster.

“In Nate Karns we bring in a Major League-ready starter coming off a very good first season in the big leagues. He has strikeout stuff,” he said in the conference call following the trade. “He’s got an excellent curveball—he throws a knuckle curveball with a really deep spike action. He was roughly a strikeout-an-inning guy at the Major-League level as a starting pitcher [in 2015], which is really hard to do. That’s generally a rare air, and now that gives us what I would estimate are three elite-level strikeout starting pitchers with Felix (Hernandez), Nate Karns and Taijuan Walker in our rotation.”

You may not have previously thought of Karns as an elite-level strikeout guy, but by the metric Dipoto lays out, he’s right there.

When you look at strikeout rate, specifically strikeouts per nine innings, Karns checks in at 8.88 K/9. That was 23rd in baseball among starters that threw at least 140 innings in 2015. One spot ahead of him was the Mets’ Matt Harvey, and one spot behind was the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole. He was actually ahead of both Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker in that stat.

Impressive stuff.


Off the Field

Nathan Karns is excited for everything that Seattle has to offer, particularly some of the things Seattle is best known for.


Last year, Nathan Karns hit the first home run by an American League pitcher in four years. Also, no pitcher—AL or NL—had ever homered and accounted for the only run of a 1-0 victory in interleague play.






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