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Prospect Karinchak flashes velo in MLB debut

@MandyBell02
September 15, 2019

CLEVELAND -- The Indians had a frustrating and disappointing Saturday, dropping both games of a split doubleheader to the first-place Twins. In a day with few bright spots, the one positive takeaway was seeing prospect James Karinchak make his Major League debut. The Twins had tied the nightcap at 5

CLEVELAND -- The Indians had a frustrating and disappointing Saturday, dropping both games of a split doubleheader to the first-place Twins. In a day with few bright spots, the one positive takeaway was seeing prospect James Karinchak make his Major League debut.

The Twins had tied the nightcap at 5 in the eighth inning for a brief moment before Miguel Sano launched a grand slam off of Nick Goody. With the Tribe trailing by four, the team turned to Karinchak for the remainder of the game in front of the third sellout crowd of the season.

“Not nervous,” Karinchak said of his emotions running to the mound. “The ballpark was obviously electric, but it’s still baseball. Same mound. I was pitching to a familiar face, Eric Haase, and I pitched to [Kevin] Plawecki at the Texas Rangers earlier in the year at the exhibition game.”

The 23-year-old right-hander forced Jason Castro to fly out to center to record the final out of the eighth inning. When he came back out for the ninth, Haase, Karinchak’s Triple-A catcher, replaced Plawecki behind the plate.

“Execute pitches,” Karinchak said of his mindset taking the rubber. “First batter, [I didn’t do that]. But the second inning I came out, I was executing a lot better.”

Karinchak struck out Ian Miller, Max Kepler -- although he still got on because of a dropped third strike -- and Jorge Polanco before LaMonte Wade Jr. popped out to short to end the frame.

“It was good to get him in,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Obviously, you’re trying to win the game. When it looks like that’s slipping away, getting a kid some experience, I think, is important. He threw the ball really well. Just getting his feet wet is important.”

For a bullpen that doesn’t really have a hard-throwing arm, Karinchak certainly brings some gas, as he stayed between 97 and 97.9 mph on all 13 of his four-seamers. Cleveland's No. 21 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, also threw four sliders and seven curveballs, the latter pitch resulting in three swinging strikes and three called strikes.

“I mean, everybody was saying the same thing: ‘Same game. Be yourself,’” Karinchak said. “So that’s what I tried to do.”

Kluber update

Corey Kluber, who fractured his arm on a comebacker on May 1 and sustained a setback with his left oblique on Aug. 18, began playing catch at 60 feet on Friday. He came in feeling well on Saturday and is expected to stay at 60 feet for the time being.

Rest for Plesac

Indians rookie starter Zach Plesac will not pitch against the Tigers in the upcoming three-game series at Progressive Field to try to help manage his workload in the final two weeks of the season. Adam Plutko will pitch on Tuesday, Aaron Civale, who tossed three innings on Friday before inclement weather postponed the game, will take the mound on Wednesday and Mike Clevinger will work the series finale.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.