In need of a spot start with lefty Ross Detwiler on the disabled list, the Nationals will call up right-hander Nathan Karns to make his major league debut on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Karns, 25, is heading to Washington from the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. Relief pitcher Xavier Cedeno will be optioned back to Syracuse to make room on the roster.
The Nationals’ 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Karns will be thrown right into the mix to face the second highest scoring club in the majors. He will be tasked with shutting down the Orioles who beat the Nats 6-2 on Monday behind 12 total hits.
Davey Johnson referred to Karns as one of the team’s top three choices to make the start. The Nats’ skipper liked what he saw out of him in spring training and now wants to see what he can bring to the major league level.
“He’s one of the good young arms in the organization. He’s been throwing the ball pretty good lately,” Johnson said. “It’ll be a good test. We’ll find out.”
This season Karns is 4-2 with a 4.60 ERA across nine starts in Double-A. Last year he held a 2.17 ERA through 24 total appearances split between Hagerstown and Potomac. Baseball America ranks him as the fifth best prospect in the organization.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki will do anything he can to help out the young rookie who will likely be pitching in front of more than 40,000 fans.
“You try to make him as comfortable as possible. We’ll obviously go over scouting reports with [Steve McCatty] before the game,” Suzuki said.
“But when you go out there, it’s all about feel. You can do all the scouting reports that you want, but you gotta pitch to your strengths and that’s the bottom line. Try to keep him calm, he’ll be a little amped up out there. It’s his first start, he’s going to be nervous.”
The Nationals had another player make his major league debut over the weekend in Jeff Kobernus. The rookie second baseman has been around Karns in the team’s minor league system and has faced him in spring training.
“The few times that I’ve faced him in spring training, he’s always looked sharp,” Kobernus said. “He’s got good stuff. He’s got a plus fastball, he’s got a hard breaking ball. He threw well last year so I expect him to come up here and do the same.”
Kobernus has yet to actually make his first MLB at-bat, but has been used as a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement. Getting a small taste of what it’s like to be a major leaguer, he can see the challenge Karns is about to walk into.
“He’s going to get the full taste of it when he’s out there tomorrow.”