Karinchak strong in return to Cleveland 'pen

October 2nd, 2021

ARLINGTON -- The Indians will get one more look at reliever before the end of the season.

With infielder Owen Miller being placed on the bereavement list prior to Friday’s series opener against the Rangers at Globe Life Field, Cleveland filled the vacancy on the roster with Karinchak, who had been with Triple-A Columbus since Aug. 28.

Karinchak was one of the most lethal weapons in the Tribe's bullpen in 2020. But after a solid start to this season, the right-hander started to wane. From June 19 through Aug. 27, Karinchak posted a 6.38 ERA in 27 appearances (24 innings) with 23 strikeouts and 18 walks. It was then that the team decided a break at Triple-A would be his best option.

But the Indians didn’t want to just throw Karinchak into Minor League games. The organization wanted to make sure that the 26-year-old was going to find some answers to his struggles by working with the player development staff one-on-one in bullpen sessions. It wasn’t until Sept. 15 that Karinchak got into his first Minor League game.

In seven appearances for Columbus, Karinchak owned a 3.00 ERA, permitting two runs in six innings with three walks and nine strikeouts. And as president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti explained earlier in the month, the organization started to see Karinchak get back in the strike zone more frequently.

“Well, from what I talked to the pitching guys [about], he was throwing the ball pretty good,” acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. “Healthy. I'm sure the pitching department got a little more specific on some things. I didn't need to hear that. His availability is good. So I'm glad to see him and I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch, and so far all is good, let's say that. Nothing bad.”

The Indians know that they won’t have an answer on where Karinchak stands by seeing him once or twice in the final three games of the season, but the team is looking forward to getting a glimpse at what he’s been working on in Triple-A. Cleveland got its first look on Friday.

In the Indians' 9-6 victory, Karinchak worked a scoreless seventh inning with no walks and one strikeout, inducing whiffs on three of the four swings against his heater.

"The one thing for me, he was down in the zone," Hale said. "I thought that was very key. He wasn't trying to overthrow the baseball. ... There was some poise, composure out there, and I don't know about all the numbers and all of that, I just see the effectiveness of this guy pitching down in the zone with his fastball, and the breaking ball here and there, and he got outs."

Mercado surprises young fan

Indians outfielder Oscar Mercado gave a young fan a memory he or she will never forget. Hours before first pitch on Friday, Mercado went through his usual pregame routine, stretching and shagging fly balls in the outfield. But when he spotted a young fan with a glove in the stands just above the left-field wall, he turned and began playing catch for a few minutes before telling the child to keep the ball as Mercado ran back into the dugout.