If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you might have me pegged as “The Carlos Carrasco Guy.” I may be the only person in the world who owns a custom, authentic, Carrasco 2016 World Series jersey. He’s my guy, through injury and bad variance, he’s my guy.
You may know me from my favorite Carrasco article of all time: “Is Carlos Carrasco the next Jose Mesa?”
Let me answer myself in that post: No.
Carlos Carrasco isn’t the next Jose Mesa because he has actually morphed into an elite starting pitcher. His 2016 was marred by fluky and ridiculous injuries, but nothing should affect his long term value. Let’s just look at those two injuries:
It all started in April, when Carrasco, who had a 2.45 ERA in 4 starts early in the season, strained his hamstring running to first base. It was a freak injury, one that should not affect the future, but it still robbed him of 7-8 weeks.
Carrasco returned in June, but he wasn’t great through August, posting a 5.20 ERA in August and a 3.93 ERA in September before another freak injury took him out for the season. If a hamstring injury could be called unfortunate, what happened to Carrasco in September was just bewildering:
Two pitches into the game on a relatively meaningless night in mid-late September, Carrasco caught a line drive on his pitching hand to end his season. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
We all know what happened next: Tito managed the greatest postseason ever, and came up just short against a juggernaut with a depleted team. Honestly, I’m still not comfortable talking about it, but that’s what happened. Would it have been different with Carrasco on the roster? It’s hard to say because baseball is such a random sport sometimes, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say:
Carrasco is the Indians unquestioned #2 starter, and, if you haven’t heard, their pitching is their strength. Let’s look at what he did overall in 2016:
11-8 3.32 ERA 146.1 IP 150 Ks
Compare that to 2015, when he finished 14th in the Cy Young race:
14-12 3.63 ERA 183 IP 216 Ks
Basically, he was on pace to beat the season where he got recognized by some Cy Young voters. That’s saying something.
So what can we expect from Carrasco in 2017? He’s finally healthy, and he will turn 30 years old in about a month (March 21). I think Carrasco will be a great secondary starter to Corey Kluber (who always starts slowly in April and May) and will be an innings eater through the early part of the season, as he has done for a few years now. If he can stay healthy, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that we see a top-5 Cy Young finish from Carrasco in 2017.
Wait, does that sound crazy? I think it does, but I really don’t think it is crazy. Let me remind you of what Carrasco did in an injury-plagued 2016, but let me also add what Kluber did.
Carrasco: 11-8 3.32 ERA 146.1 IP 150 Ks
Kluber: 18-9 3.14 ERA 215.0 IP 227 Ks
Yes, Kluber’s stats were better and came in a bigger sample size, but having both of these guy at the top of a ridiculous rotation should make anyone salivate. Adjusted for stats, Carrasco was a dozen strikeouts off of Kluber’s pace, which is amazing considering he had to come back from an injury during the summer.
So, what can we expect from the Carrascinator? Shamelessly, as his biggest fan, I will predict the following 2017:
35 GS, 205 IP 3.21 ERA 208 Ks 2 CG Shutouts
I think if he accomplishes that, he will be in the conversation for Cy Young (but ultimately won’t win it).
But if Carlos Carrasco stays healthy he will be an important figure in September, October, and maybe/hopefully November.