Any player who has a triple-digit fastball paired with a nasty breaking ball has a shot at closing if they can control it and James Karinchak can do all those things. He doesn’t have a ton of big league experience yet, but the overall thought surrounding Karinchak is that he is the ideal closer of the future in Cleveland.
Karinchak was the Indians’ most used reliever during the 2020 season, making 27 appearances and totaling 27 innings. At the age of 25, he seems like he has all the tools a team looks for in a closer.
During the 2020 season, Karinchak logged a low 2.67 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP while striking out 53 batters, averaging almost two strikeouts an inning. He was also able to log one save, one of four that weren’t clinched by Hand. The others belonged to Oliver Perez, Adam Plutko and Cam Hill.
However, unlike Wittgren, Karinchak doesn’t have as much of a resume when it comes to closing in the minors. Karinchak had a total of 22 saves over his entire minor league career, a number that Wittgren eclipsed in a single season more than once. That isn’t to say that Karinchak couldn’t become the closer, but it might just be a harder transition for him.