According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Cleveland Indians are planning to call up fire-balling reliever James Karinchak.
The Cleveland Indians are calling up right-handed reliever James Karinchak, a source tells ESPN. In 30.1 minor league innings this season, Karinchak has struck out 74 batters. Yes, 81% of Karinchak’s outs have come via strikeout.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 12, 2019
Karinchak’s long overdue promotion comes a day after the Indians revealed that Brad Hand was getting an MRI on a “tired arm” and hasn’t pitched since September 8. Those two things may or may not be related, but we’ll probably find out when the Indians announce the move.
As Passan noted above, Karinchak strikes out a ton of batters with a high-90s fastball rated as a 70 (on a 20-80 scale) by FanGraphs. His command (a 40 by FanGraphs’ scouting) is an issue in itself. While he has struck out 81% of the batters he’s faced in the minors, he’s also walked almost 15% of them, including 16.7% at Triple-A this season. On some level, he’s like Shawn Armstrong with all the dials turned up to a million.
Karinchak joins a bullpen that leads the league in ERA (3.61), but has had a rough go of it lately with Hand struggling, Nick Wittgren regressing, and Adam Cimber being wildly inconsistent.