Cleveland Indians make needed move with James Karinchak

Aug 27, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher James Karinchak (99) reacts after giving up a home run to Boston Red Sox shortstop Jonathan Arauz (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 27, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher James Karinchak (99) reacts after giving up a home run to Boston Red Sox shortstop Jonathan Arauz (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cleveland Indians felt that they had one of the better duos at the back of their bullpen in baseball. Between James Karinchak and Emmanual Clase, the Indians appeared to have the eighth and ninth innings locked down. However, Karinchak had begun to struggle in the second half, getting to the point where he could no longer be trusted.

On Saturday, the Indians made a move that they had to make. Karinchak was optioned to Triple-A, his roster spot going to Bobby Bradley as he was activated from the Injured List.

Cleveland Indians had to do something with James Karinchak

Karinchak had been one of the better relievers in baseball over the first three months of the season. He had a 2.60 ERA and a 1.010 WHiP in his 34.2 innings, striking out 59 batters while serving as one of Cleveland’s co-closers. After a strong rookie season in 2020, he appeared to be taking that next step.

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Then the calendar flipped to July. Major League Baseball decided to step up their reinforcement on the ban against foreign substances on the ball. At the same time, Karinchak had begun to close in on his professional high in innings pitched.

That combination became a disaster. Karinchak has not been close to being the same pitcher since the start of July, posting a 6.86 ERA and a 1.627 WHiP over his 19.2 innings. His fate appeared to have been sealed on Friday, as he allowed three runs on two hits and a walk without retiring a batter.

It is possible that this time in Triple-A will be what he needs. He could get a bit of rest and a mental break, allowing him to potentially return over the final few weeks of the season. If that happens, Karinchak would have the opportunity to prove himself once again.

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The Cleveland Indians had to do something with James Karinchak. His demotion to Triple-A is not a surprise given his recent performance.