Kansas City Royals: The Nate Karns Injury and Update

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 3: Nathan Karns
KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 3: Nathan Karns /

Nate Karns has been plagued with injuries nearly his entire career. When the Royals traded for him they were hoping they would have better luck. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.

News broke today that Royals pitcher Nate Karns was heading to the DL to start the season. This is upsetting for a lot of people because they were hoping that he would be a main piece to the Kansas City Royals rotation.

When the Royals traded Jarrod Dyson to the Seattle Mariners for Karns, he was labeled as “injury prone”. With Royals training Nick Kenney, front office and fans were really hoping he would be able to help Karns shed that label.

When he came to the Royals, his Spring Training showed a lot of promise. He posted a 3.91 ERA over 23.0 innings. Arguably the most exciting piece was the number of home runs and strikeouts compared to walks though. Over those six starts, Karns surrendered one home run and had 30 strikeouts to just six walks. He was attacking the strike zone and hitters. What’s not to love there?

When the year started, Karns made the rotation, to no one’s surprise. The month of April was a struggle, posting a 6.26 ERA with 19 strikeouts, nine walks, and a surprising six home runs over 23.0 innings. He was also 1-4 during his first five starts. Things were not looking good for Karns to say the least.

Then May happened. When Karns seemed to settle down and start building chemistry with Salvador Perez, Karns began looking like a great addition to the team. Over his next four starts, Karns posted a 2.01 ERA over 22.1 innings. During that stretch, he surrendered four home runs while striking out 32 batters and walking just four. This was exciting for all Royals fans.

The injury bug hits

Then bad news hit. Karns was going to miss the remainder of the 2017 season and need to have thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.  This type of injury can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers, which is not good for a pitcher.

After having the surgery, the Royals were hoping that the injury history would be over. The only catch is that the recovery time for this procedure all depends on how the nerves regenerate. In Karns situation, it seemed to regenerate quickly. However, for players like former Royal Luke Hochevar, it may take longer than normal.

Hopefully, 2018 is different

After recovering fully from his procedure, the Royals hoped that he was going to be ready to pick up where he left off in May. With most of the rotation returning, Karns was prepared to be a middle of the rotation pitcher.

Again, his Spring Training showed that he was ready. After four starts and 13.2 innings, Karns posted a 1.98 ERA. He also struck out 18 hitters and walked just six, while giving up just two home runs. Things were looking up for Nate Karns!

Or so we thought…

The Royals were not setting the rotation or 25-man roster as quick as other teams. They told the media that they would fill everyone in at 10:00 AM on Opening Day. And Karns was apart of the reason they waited until today.

Ned Yost gave everyone an update on what was expected of Karns today after news broke that he was going to start the year on the DL.

Ned Yost went on to say that he will return to the team on Thursday of next week.

The fact that Karns has been feeling the elbow tightness and fatigue around the 60-65 pitch mark is disappointing. He has always been a pitcher that attacks the hitter and would make a great addition to the rotation.

However, the idea of him coming in from the bullpen is still a great one. With the bullpen having some question marks as to how guys will be production wise, having Karns come in for 20-30 pitches will drastically help the bullpen.

Now it is just a matter of finding the fifth rotation piece to replace Karns.

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Final Thoughts

I love watching Karns work. The fact that he seems to always have injury problems is disheartening, but the idea of him being a dominant force coming from the bullpen is a fun thought. Former Royal pitcher Wade Davis, Hochevar, and even Mike Minor have had success moving from the rotation to the bullpen. I anticipate Karns having similar success.

What do you think Royals fans? This is not the news we wanted to hear on the first day of the regular-season, but how do you think Karns will do coming from the bullpen? Let us know below!