Karinchak Update, Zimmer Update, and Early Thoughts on Scott Moss

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

I believe the Indians have a real decision to make on James Karinchak. Add him now for the stretch run but risk a valuable 40-man spot in December? He was clearly rusty with Columbus after coming back from the IL (6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 11 BB, 18K). Since then, he was 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 13 K in his last five outings. I think the difference is him figuring out his CB.

James Karinchak: In early August, I did not think Karinchak looked ready for MLB. His command of both his FB and CB was off and his CB did not look as good as I hoped. Since then (especially his last 3 outings), he has found his 84-85 mph CB. The pitch looks better from a quality perspective and most importantly he is commanding it well. The CB he has shown the last couple weeks is an above average MLB pitch and he’s actually commanded it at an MLB average level. He is getting a lot of swings and misses off his CB which he was not getting in his first half dozen outings with AAA Columbus. I wonder if his time off due to the hamstring injury contributed to going cold on his CB? I still do not think he has MLB quality command of his 95-96 mph (T 97) FB but it is adequate and MLB relievers do not need precise FB command to be successful. If you can command your offspeed pitch well you can still be effective out of relief at the MLB level. Small sample size on Karinchak finding his CB but what he showed his last four outings translates to an above average MLB relief pitcher in my opinion. If he can command his CB, which he has done recently in Columbus, he is an impact MLB reliever.

The Indians have a real decision to make on James Karinchak. He is not eligible for the Rule V draft this offseason so he does not need to be added to the 40-man, but there are a handful of other quality players the Indians would likely want to protect (Daniel Johnson, Triston McKenzie, Scott Moss, Ka’ai Tom, Cam Hill to name a few). I was not supportive of adding Karinchak three weeks ago, but considering how good he has looked with his CB in the last four outings I think he looks like he can contribute at the MLB level. I am supportive of adding Karinchak to the 40-man roster for the September stretch run (and hopefully October) at the risk of making a tough decision on another player in December. Adding Carrasco could be a major shot in the arm to the bullpen, but we may not be able to depend on Plutko, Plesac and Civale to continue to turn in these great outings the way they have so getting a swing-and-miss option that can pitch to both RH and LH could be a real help. It is defensible if the Indians choose not to use him this year, but I would side on adding him now.

Scott Moss: 6’5"-6’6" LHP with good leverage. His FB is most comfortably in the 90-92 mph range, though he has 93-94 mph (T 95) in his back pocket for when he wants it in tight situations. While his FB velocity is below MLB average, he releases the ball from an advantaged release point (6’5", ¾ slot) so it comes in on a harder-to-hit downward plane. I think his FB plays just fine at the MLB level. He also got some good swing and miss off his FB which surprised me. I do not think his FB is a weakness. Moss’ best offspeed pitch is an 82-85 mph CH that he throws hard. It looked like a slightly above average MLB pitch to me but he is not able to command it consistently yet (only saw two starts), which he must do if he’s going to be a good MLB pitcher. Moss throws an 82-84 mph SL and a Cut FB/Hard SL in the 85-87 mph range. I think his SL is below MLB quality right now but he commands it well. Moss gets good downward leverage but he does not throw a CB which could be helpful to work vertically more. Moss works really well inside to RHH with his FB that he also cuts in vs. them and when he is commanding his above average CH he is tough on RHH. I do not at all think Moss is a guy that needs to be a LHH-only pitcher – I think he is probably even be better vs. RHH when he is on with his CH. His most recent start @Louisville he pitched very confidently so things are clicking for him.

I only saw his starts @Charlotte and @Louisville and I normally like to see at least 3 starts for young pitchers but I am pleasantly surprised considering he felt a bit like a throw-in type in the Bauer trade when the deal was announced (I think most felt Puig, Reyes and Allen was a fair return). I’d definitely add Moss to the 40-man this offseason to protect him from the Rule V. Moss is a really nice, underappreciated and sneaky add in my opinion. I graded his FB command below MLB average (as was his CH command) so I do not think he is ready for MLB now and probably not ready in spring of 2020, but some improvement next year and this guy can log some good innings for the MLB team. He has 3’ish (I’m lumping his SL and Cut FB/SL together) MLB quality pitches, good leverage and I think can be an effective, though probably not >2 WAR, MLB pitcher capable of starting in the future.

Bradley Zimmer: He has materially changed his stance in the batter’s box. He used to crouch down to help him cover his large strike zone, but now he is almost entirely upright. This could be to adjust for his injury? Zimmer has really long levers (arms and legs) and covering the strike zone is naturally difficult for him, so I find it odd he is upright now but there is probably something behind it? It is hard not to notice his new look.

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