The Indians have sent James Karinchak to Triple-A Columbus.
The Indians have sent down James Karinchak after the reliever fell apart after the mid-season. The Tribe, who are currently just under .500 for the season, once had a fantastic bullpen that saved their season for the most part. After all of the top pitchers in the rotation went down, however, the bullpen ended up doing even more work. That may have been an issue for Karinchak, who was thought to be the best, or among the best pitchers in the bullpen.
In late May, Karinchak had an ERA of 0.44, an absurdly good stat for a reliever. That would eventually hit the 2.00 range, still very good for a reliever. He’d hit a mid-year low on July 9 of 2.41, right about where you want an All-Star caliber reliever to be. Since then, however, his ERA has spiked to 4.14, a bad number for just about any reliever.
Whether it’s arm fatigue, mental exhaustion, or a nagging injury, Cleveland decided that Karinchak needed some tinkering and sent him back to Triple-A.
Four reasons that James Karinchak may have been demoted.
If it were any other reliever, maybe it doesn’t get the same kind of focus. Yet, it’s not. Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase were seen as the two best arms in the bullpen and the fact that Karinchak was sent down is not a good sign. There are four key reasons he may have been demoted, and they may all be career-altering.
Nagging Injury Issue
If Karinchak is dealing with an arm (or foot) issue that is affecting his control, it could be the beginning of the end. Sure, maybe it’s just some soreness, but a pitcher’s arm is actually quite delicate so a minor issue could cause serious changes to be made. Going to Columbus, Cleveland’s Triple-A site may offer him the opportunity to relax some and heal up.
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Karinchak made a name for himself in 2020 with his dominating play. He struck out 53 batters in just 27 innings while posting a .267 ERA. That is something to focus on, he only pitched 27 innings in 2020. He’s at 54.1 for 2021, with an ERA of 4.14. Can Karinchak pitch more than 27 innings before losing his stuff? A trip to Triple-A may help him with his endurance and stamina.
A Mentally Hard Season
All athletes have to keep a clear mind. The Indians have had a lot going on this year. From the name change to Terry Francona’s massive surgeries to the disabled list featuring the team’s best arms, all while a pandemic rages? It’d be understandable that maybe Karinchak’s mind isn’t where it needs to be. Going to Triple-A may help him decompress and come back right.
No More Sticky Stuff
Karinchak started falling apart around the same time the MLB started cracking down on pitchers using sticky substances. Since no one has been maimed or fatally injured since the crackdown, it’s fair to say the pitchers weren’t using it for “better control to protect the hitters” as so many claimed. They used it to get an illegal advantage against them. Was Karinchak someone who relied too much on the sticky stuff? That might not be something Triple-A can help him with.