The Indians have a problem.
OK, so they have lots of problems. But the problem of the moment—and the one that seriously is jeopardizing the 2015 season—is Carlos Carrasco turning back into a pumpkin.
Last April the Indians demoted Carrasco to the bullpen after he had posted a 5.66 ERA in 44 career starts. They were effectively throwing in the towel on his career in the rotation and wanted to give him one last chance to stick in Cleveland by earning a job in the bullpen.
While pitching from the ‘pen, something clicked. Carrasco averaged nearly a strikeout per inning and dramatically cut down on his walks—giving up just nine free passes in 43 innings over 26 appearances.
Then in mid-August, with Josh Tomlin struggling to fill Justin Masterson‘s spot in the rotation, the Tribe gave Carrasco one last shot. He stuck with his same approach from the bullpen, pitching exclusively from the stretch, and stayed hot. He posted a 1.30 ERA in 10 starts to close out the season with a remarkable 78-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Indians had found their No. 2 starter, and all the hopes of the 2015 season rested on his ability to dominate at the top of the rotation with Corey Kluber.
Now fast forward to Sunday afternoon in Texas.
For the fifth straight outing, Carrasco struggled, allowing seven hits, two walks and five runs in eight innings of work. He’s posted a 5.91 ERA in that span.
Carrasco’s control remains improved (33 K to nine walks in his last five games) but his 1.44 WHIP is well below expectations as the Tribe’s a No. 2 starter in the most pitcher-friendly era we’ve seen in two decades.
The most concerning statistic from Carrasco’s recent collapse is his .359 BA allowed and .931 OPS allowed to righties.
Whatever Carrasco’s issues are, he needs to straighten them out quickly. Given the Indians offensive ineptitude, they can’t reasonably expect to compete without two aces at the top of the rotation.
Other thoughts on notes on today’s game…
- The Indians are now 5-11 in Kluber and Carrasco’s 16 starts. Ouch.
- Jason Kipnis went 1-3, dropping his May average to .508.
- The Tribe went 1-10 with RISP, with Michael Brantley (of course) collecting the only hit. They have a .257 average with RISP on the season (T-17th in the majors). But that’s significantly skewed by Brantley’s .412 clip.
- With the loss, the Indians still have not won three straight games or swept a series of any length this season.
- David Murphy went 2-4 to raise his average to .315. The addition of Brandon Moss was supposed to phase Murphy out of the rotation in the outfield, but it’s tough to keep him out of the lineup given how everyone else is hitting right now.