That wasn’t very fun. Carlos Carrasco was slightly below average or mediocre today, depending on your expectations for the mercurial right-hander. He got himself into some trouble in the first and the third innings, but was pretty efficient otherwise (7 Ks in 5.2 IP), en route to giving up 5 total runs (4 earned) in his first start of 2014.
Carrasco has been a hard guy to predict ever since coming over in the Cliff Lee trade — he’s had some short success in the rotation, but he’s failed to re-establish that pedigree following the recovery period of his Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of 2012. He flamed out as a starter last year, but carved out a niche role in the bullpen late last summer, and many people (myself included) thought he had found a home in which to carve out a career.
But then Carrasco won a starting gig this Spring (possibly unfairly, as many people have speculated, considering that he has no options left), and now everything he does as a starter will be (unfairly) compared to the mythical Josh Tomlin, who currently toils away in Columbus. This isn’t meant to defend Carrasco or paint his start today as a success: he gave up 4 earned to one of the worst offensive clubs in baseball — it isn’t good.
But, I just want to emphasize that it isn’t necessarily bad, either.
Carrasco struck out 7 hitters, like I mentioned earlier. That’s pretty good.
He allowed 9 total baserunners in 5.2 innings — which is higher than we’d like, but not an abject failure.
He shook off a couple bad innings and made the rest of his work fairly uneventful — this is good news.
The biggest thing with Carrasco is always going to be his head. He has electric stuff, but he’s often let unfortunate twists of fate get under his skin, leading to big innings for the opposition (Bad!) and intentionally throwing at hitters (REALLY BAD!!). Today, he got himself out of trouble and kept the game from getting tremendously out of reach. If it wasn’t for Pestano (more on that in a second), the Indians lose 5-3 and they bring the tying run to the plate twice in the 9th — it wasn’t a quality start, but Carrasco kept the Tribe in it.
The same can not be said for the Indians offense, who were shut down by Kyle Gibson and the rest of the Minnesota pitching staff (except Glen Perkins, who was not sharp). I’m not going to dwell on it, as it’s still early and these games happen. But I will point out that Lonnie Chisenhall is still hitting .500 and looks competent! I’m gonna have to get a #FreeLonnie hashtag trending on Twitter or something.
Finally, Vinnie Pestano was not good. He did get some strikeouts with his slider (which looked nasty today), but you can’t hide from the rest of his stat line: three hits, a walk, and two earned runs in an inning of work. His fastball is reportedly sitting at 89-90, when it should be at 92-93, and it shows. At this point, I think you have to give Vinnie at least a couple months to try to get it back, but we have to face the possibility that a guy who was overlooked as a prospect because he didn’t have overwhelming stuff may have lost that narrow edge he had that allowed him to be effective. I love Vinnie, and I will root for him until the end of time, but the guy we saw in 2012 just looks to be gone. I hope I am wrong.
Next game is tomorrow at 1:05 — Indians will go for the series win (which is important!)