The Washington Nationals announced this afternoon that they officially selected right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned right-hander Nate Karns back to Double-A Harrisburg. The Nats also moved right-hander reliever Christian Garcia to the 60-Day DL. Ohlendorf signed a minor league deal back in January. In 13 games and 12 starts with the Triple-A Chiefs, the 30-year-old right-hander is (4-5) with a 4.27 ERA, a 3.44 FIP, 30 walks (3.77 BB/9) and 67 Ks (8.41 K/9) in 71.2 IP. Ohlendorf will start for the Nationals for the first time tonight in the second game of three with the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field.
Nate Karns, 25, was (0-1) in three starts with the Nationals after he was called up from Double-A Harrisburg to make his MLB debut. Karns had a 7.50 ERA, 8.40 FIP, six walks (4.50 BB/9) and 11 Ks (8.25 K/9) in 12.0 IP over which he gave up five home runs after surrendering just five home runs in 45.0 innings with the Nats' Double-A Eastern League affiliate. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked to assess Karns' run with the Nationals in his weekly appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s eponymous "Mike Rizzo Show" with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning.
"Karns did a nice job," Rizzo said, "Ohlendorf is going to pitch today. You got to see one of our future guys in Karns that I thought handled himself extremely well and [maturely] in some trying situations. Those emergency starts are never easy. Especially for a young kid, but handled himself well, you could see the stuff is there and he'll be one of the guys that we'll count on down the road in the future."
Asked what he liked and what Karns needed to improve, Rizzo said, "He's a big physical pitcher. He throws hard. He's got good stuff. He's 93-96 on his fastball and he's got a good spiked curve ball and a good feel for the change. I liked the first two outings when he attacked the strike zone and made some pitches, and the third one I think he got a little less aggressive and started nibbling a little bit. But we tell all our guys when they come up, 'Trust your stuff. Pound the strike zone. Don't give the hitters too much credit and go after them,' and I thought he did that for the most part.
"And what he'll have to do is, with the good stuff you still have to make pitches and hit your spots and I think with more reps and more starts in the minor leagues that he'll get better at that and he'll be a guy that we can feel comfortable reaching for again if need be and a guy down that road that will compete for a rotation spot down the road in the future."
Ohlendorf and the Nationals take on the Rockies at 8:40 pm EDT tonight in Coors Field.