The most frustrating thing about Carlos Carrasco is the constant up and down. As Indians Manager Terry Francona has said all spring, Carrasco has top of the rotation stuff. In past years, we have seen Carlos step up as a starter and look like he should be a fixture in the Indians rotation and other times he has looked like he didn’t belong. Carrasco looked his best last year when he was moved to the bullpen late in the year. As the Indians made their charge to the 2013 post-season, Carrasco looked more confident and in control with every appearance out of the bullpen.
All spring long it has felt like Francona has been leaning towards Carrasco to win the Fifth starter role. Now, we are down to a week before opening day and the race has been narrowed to Josh Tomlin and Carassco. Carrasco blew up twice last week when he needed a good outing and left Francona saying words like “frustrated” and Disappointed”. He was able to come back yesterday with a strong outing against the Reds, where he went 6 innings allowing 3 runs while striking out 5 and walking only one.
Carrasco has excellent velocity, throwing in the mid to high 90’s. Indians pitching coach Mickey Calloway worked with Carlos on his mechanics this offseason. They wanted to make him more deceptive to hitters. With his kind of velocity he shouldn’t be getting hit as hard as he has at times in the past. In 2014, he will be primarily using his four seam fastball and change up while mixing in with a sometimes wicked slider.
I have always been routing for Carlos mainly because anyone can see the immense potential that he possesses. Much of the trouble Carlos has encountered originates between his ears. He has shown the propensity to be a bit of a hot head and not as collected as one would want a starting pitcher to be. GM Chris Antonetti told Carrasco he was going to be on the opening day roster regardless of whether he won a spot in the starting rotation in hopes that it would allow him to relax and just pitch. This confirms the suspicion that confidence is an issue as well.
I would like to see Francona give Carrasco the 5th spot in the rotation and see what happens. I think that he showed impressive growth at the end of last season. He pitched well when the stakes were high and that is a good sign. Showing the ability to rise to the occasion made a quality impression on me. Given the right kind of start, he could have a breakout year for the Indians. Unfortunatley, given a poor start and a bumpy road, things could always go the other way. In which case, we know he can be effective out of the bullpen and at that point might have to conclude that is where he belongs. Mickey Calloway showed us last year what he can do with guys who have had a hard time finding it when given some time to handle them. I think Calloway can get Carlos where he needs to be mentally and mechanically. It would be awfully sweet to get to watch the likes of Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco grow up and be a big part of this rotation. They both have potentially all-world stuff and the youth to put it to use. I have a feeling that the Tribe top men feel the same way and that we are going to see Carrasco every fifth day when the games start to count next week.
By: Brad Ward
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