Anything interesting happen last night?
The news last week that the Orioles released Nate Karns from his contract didn’t send shockwaves through the industry. Karns cleared waivers and was outrighted. He had the right to decline the assignment and apparently chose to do it.
What followed was a paper move. And a final admission that the major league free agent signing for the Orioles in the offseason didn’t pan out.
It was worth a shot. A veteran who could fill a spot in the rotation or bullpen. A low-risk, high-reward type of move common throughout the industry.
Here’s what should be remembered about Karns: He’s the only Orioles pitcher who didn’t surrender a home run.
Go down the list and he’s joined only by catcher Jesús Sucre, who retired the White Sox in order in an April emergency appearance. Sucre no longer is on the roster and currently resides on the restricted list at Triple-A Norfolk.
The Orioles are barreling toward the major league record of 258 home runs allowed set by the 2016 Reds. Karns figured to join the party at some point. Statcast was waiting to record the launch angle. But he got away clean in four appearances.
The only launch was his removal from the organization.
Clean, by the way, as in no home runs allowed. There were seven hits, three walks and an unearned run. But he has no-homer bragging rights.
Karns could latch on with another team next spring and try again to resurrect his career. He’s going to have a hard time finding a job before the 2019 season ends because he’s still in the rehab process and struggling to regain his velocity and command.
Not much help to a contender.
Karns is a good guy and uncomfortable on the injured list. He isn’t content to just cash the check and get in line for the postgame spread. But his body keeps breaking down.
The Orioles probably will take a similar chance on someone else next year. At least one. A payroll friendly player who had some past success and could plug a hole in the roster.
We’re also going to see a heavy dose of six-year minor league free agents next spring. Not a new development. It carries from contention to a rebuild.
Depth is always a goal and the lack of it in the pitching department at the Triple-A level is a big issue this season.
As for today’s game, Asher Wojciechowski will try again to regain his earlier touch that elevated his status on the pitching staff.
Wojciechowski has allowed nine runs and 12 hits with six walks in his last two starts covering 8 2/3 innings. He’s also surrendered five home runs, including three in the third inning Tuesday night against the Yankees.
He’s never faced the Astros.
The Orioles will have to contend with Justin Verlander, who’s 15-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 0.812 WHIP in 24 starts. He’s averaging 1.9 walks and 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
His 29 home runs allowed were tied for the major league lead heading into the weekend.
Verlander is 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.154 WHIP in 21 career starts against the Orioles and 8-1 with a 2.42 ERA and 0.987 WHIP in 11 starts at Camden Yards.
Chris Davis is the only current Orioles player with more than five plate appearances against Verlander. He’s 7-for-35 with 20 strikeouts.