Bullish or Bearish – Nate Karns
A former 12th round pick who was dealt for a back up catcher in 2014, Karns was more of a shot in the dark than a pedigreed prospect. Having been dealt two more times since then, it’s easy to see why there hasn’t been much excitement about a 4.46 ERA over his first 7 starts. Looking at his numbers, though, he is showing some interesting signs of improvement.
His 10.71 K/9 and 2.90 BB/9 are clearly career bests and his 12.9% swinging strike rate backs up the high strike out rate. Couple those with a career high 55.2% Groundball percentage. Looking at his pitches, for further evidence to support these improvements, he is now throwing 15.8% changeups, up 4% over his career and that pitch has gone from below average to very good according to fangraphs’ pitch value numbers. He continued last year’s trend of throwing about 35% curveballs, but more importantly, the pitch values on that pitch have gone up a full point, making it a plus pitch as well.
His xFIP sits at an excellent 3.24. That assumes that his 22% HR per Flyball rate regresses to league average (about 10%), which may be a bit aggressive given his previous two years of a 12.8% and 11.5% HR/FB rates. Kaufman Stadium will help suppress homeruns, but even if it stays high at 12 to 13%, his ERA should get under 3.5 which would make him at a $9000 pitcher and he’s priced at $8200. It may be shrewd to avoid playing him in homerun friendly parks, such as his home park, until you see improvements there, but if he keeps the 55.2% GB percentage, he will still be giving up fewer homeruns than he has in past season
I am BULLISH on Nate Karns. He may not go too deep into games, but if keeps striking out more than 10 per 9, he can provide strong value.
Have a question about some of the stats mentioned above? This article can help.