The Nationals will call up prospect right-hander Nate Karns to start Tuesday against the Orioles, reports Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com. He’ll fill the rotation spot of Ross Detwiler, who has been dealing with a right oblique strain for well over a week and was finally placed on the disabled list yesterday.
Karns only has nine starts above the High-A level, so facing the powerful Orioles’ lineup will be a big test, but the Nationals are willing to roll the dice with him rather than give another start to Zach Duke. Meanwhile, Chris Young has really struggled at Triple-A and Ross Ohlendorf just pitched for the Chiefs on Saturday and would be on short rest for the assignment.
Shoulder problems caused Karns to drop to the 12th round back in 2009, but he owns a 2.70 ERA and 262 strikeouts over 216 1/3 innings in the minors. After being named the Nationals’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2012, the 25-year-old owns a 4.60 ERA and 55/18 K/BB ratio in 45 innings across nine starts in Double-A this season. While he has averaged 4.1 BB/9 in the minors, he has shown improved control as he has worked his way up the organizational ladder.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.
According to an official team announcement, the Nationals have acquired catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Pedro Avila.
Norris, 27, batted a career-low .186/.225/.328 in 458 PA with the Padres in 2016. He hit career highs with 14 home runs and nine stolen bases, but his dismal production rate through the second half of the season spelled the end of his time in a starting role in San Diego. Norris’ departure from the Padres also confirms 24-year-old Austin Hedges‘ spot on the roster, as reported by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell:
Heading to San Diego is 19-year-old right-handed starter Pedro Avila, who was acquired by the Nationals as an international free agent in 2014. The 19-year-old spent his first season in Single-A Hagerstown and went 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.42 K/BB rate in 93 innings.