The Indians are calling up right-hander James Karinchak, ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link). Cleveland has a full 40-man roster, so a move will have to be made to accommodate Karinchak prior to tomorrow’s game.
A ninth-round pick for the Tribe in the 2017 draft, Karinchak made his Triple-A debut in 2019 and posted a 4.67 ERA over 17 1/3 relief innings. Beyond that fairly unimpressive mark, however, stands an eyebrow-raising strikeout total — Karinchak struck out 42 batters in his brief time at Triple-A Columbus, continuing an incredible season of missing bats for the 23-year-old. Over 30 1/3 total minor league innings in a year shortened by hamstring injuries, Karinchak has 74 strikeouts.
MLB.com ranks Karinchak as the 21st-best prospect in Cleveland’s farm system, giving high grades on the 20-80 scouting scale to his 95-98mph fastball (a 70 grade) and a “12-to-6 curveball that he can get them to chase out of the bottom of the zone” (60 grade). Between a high arm slot and a tendency to overthrow, however, Karinchak has also had problems limiting free passes. He has a 5.5 BB/9 over his 102 1/3 career minor league innings, and a 6.8 BB/9 at Columbus this season.
The Tribe will hope that Karinchak’s live arm can help reinforce a bullpen that has fallen on hard times recently. Closer Brad Hand’s recent struggles are the largest concern, though Cleveland relievers as a whole have a cumulative 5.20 ERA over the last 30 days, the fifth-highest mark of any team’s relief corps over that span. While Indians relievers have been pretty good as a whole all season, they rank near the middle of the pack in K/9, so Karinchak promises a particular boost in that department.