Ross Detwiler was unable to recover as expected from his oblique strain, which landed him on the disabled list, so the Nats needed a starting pitcher to replace him in the rotation. Conventional wisdom had either Zach Duke making another spot start or even Chris Young getting a chance despite disappointing numbers in Triple-A, which wasn't exactly going to get anyone excited. Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson had other plans and decided to give young righty Nate Karns the opportunity for his MLB debut on Tuesday.
Karns, the Nationals 2012 Organizational Pitcher of the Year, was also ranked as the number two pitching prospect and number five overall prospect in the farm system by Baseball America. He will make the jump from Double-A Harrisburg where he's posted a 4.60 ERA, but a much better 3.53 FIP and an extremely impressive 11 K/9 in his nine starts this season.
Karns will go up against Kevin Gausman, who was the number two overall prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization before being called up last week to make his on MLB debut. Karns has a low-to-mid 90s electric fastball to accompany a strong curveball and below-average changeup. Gausman can light it up to the upper 90s on the radar gun with his fastball, and he has a good slider and above-average changeup.
It will be a fun matchup between these two young players, both in the first full week of their MLB careers, as the Nats try to recover from a Memorial Day loss at home to the Orioles yesterday. There's nothing quite like when two young, top-prospect pitchers have the opportunity to pitch against each other, and it's even better when one is fresh off his MLB debut and the other his making his own debut. This is probably a game you'll want to watch closely, especially in the first two-thirds of the game.