Nathan Karns discussed the Mariners' decision to move him from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
Nathan Karns believes he’s a starting pitcher and a good one. But the reality of his current situation is a new role in the Mariners’ bullpen.
On Tuesday, Mariners manager Scott Servais confirmed that Karns had lost his spot in the starting rotation and was being shifted to the bullpen.
“I’ve only worked out of the bullpen once in my life,” Karns said on Wednesday. “It’s new to me. But it’s still the same game. I have to go out there and make my pitches and try to get a zero on the board.”
With Wade Miley and Taijuan Walker ready to return to their normal spots in the rotation, the Mariners decided to stay with veteran lefty Wade LeBlanc as the No. 5 starter and shift Karns to a relief role. Manager Scott Servais called it a tough decision. But it was largely based on Karns struggles to consistently give them quality starts.
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In his first 10 starts this season, Karns posted a 5-1 record with a 3.43 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 21 walks in 57 1/3 innings pitched. The Mariners were 8-2 in those outings. But in his last five starts, Karns is 1-1 with a 7.33 ERA with 17 walks and 27 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings pitched. Karns hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of those outings and the Mariners are 1-4 in those games.
Asked if he was disappointed with the decision, Karns was blunt.
“I can’t be disappointed,” he said. “I put myself in that situation. I’ve always been told: ‘If you don’t like it, play better.’ That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m just going to sit here and do whatever they ask of me and try to do the best to my ability.”
Servais hopes to get Karns a relief appearance in the next few days to see how he handles it.
“He may pitch tonight,” he said. “I do think we need to get him out there as quick as possible. I think he’s anxious to get out there and do something to help the team as well.”
Until then, Karns is trying to figure out a routine and preparation mindset to get him ready. He’ll turn to his teammates for help.
“When I’m in the bullpen, I will definitely be picking their brains and asking guys what they do to get ready,” he said. “It is a newer situation, but I don’t think it’s anything I can’t handle.”
And yet, in his mind, he sees himself as a starter in the future.
“I would prefer to go back to being a starter,” he said. “But at the same time, I have an opportunity here and I’m not going to whine and make excuses about it. I’m going to take it and run with it and do the best I can with it.”