A year ago on Apr. 12, 2013, the Cleveland Indians realized Carlos Carrasco was not a viable option in the starting rotation. Putting his unpleasant numbers and unsatisfactory sample work aside, Carrasco had demonstrated his mental approach to be unfit for upholding the responsibility as a starting pitcher. His maturity was on display as he once again carried out the practice of throwing at a player’s head, this time in the direction of Kevin Youkilis’ in the fourth inning where he dug Cleveland into a 7-0 hole.
The most recent debate surrounding Carrasco’s role as a starter has become more lopsided, as the 27 year old is off to an even worse start than last year with a 7.84 ERA in 10.1 innings. Carrasco’s succession of early hooks is nothing new in Northeast, OH, but this time is far more revealing, as he has seen a drop in velocity without explanation. In Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, Carrasco saw his fastballs dip from 94-97 mph down to 90-92 mph in his last 2 2-3 innings pitched.
Pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin haven’t always been rock solid, but they have shown growth in areas they have fought with in the past. Friday night saw the same trouble Carrasco has upheld throughout his time with the Indians in struggling the second time through the batting order. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway seems disturbed with Carrasco, as he continues to make the same unconscious mistakes.
“I don’t know why he’s tired after two innings. You’ll have to ask him,” said Callaway. “He did have trouble maintaining the mechanical adjustment we made with him in the offseason during the game. But that’s something he’s battled throughout. I don’t know why he said he was tired.”
Carrasco is feeling the heat from his poor performances, with his latest start kicking up the dust on his job title yet again with the Indians just two weeks into the season. “Really, I’m trying to find out what’s going on. I’m trying to do my best. I need to do something because I can’t do this anymore,” said Carrasco in reference to his drop in velocity and poor play. “These guys have given me an opportunity to start. They’re waiting for me to show them something. The trusted me. They put me in the fifth spot in the rotation. So I need to do something.”
A common conclusion to the Venezuelan’s outings has come with manager Terry Francona ending his day putting out a fire rather than telling him in the dugout. Bauer, a competitor for the fifth rotation spot in Spring Training, was able to clean up his own mess Wednesday in a sixth inning bases-loaded situation. In the spot start, Bauer cemented the idea that he has front of the rotation type qualities, potentially closer to a permanent job in the majors than previously expected.
The Indians may be in denial of accepting Carrasco as a bullpen pitcher. On paper, he has the attributes to act the part, sporting a 6-foot-3 frame and throwing in the mid-90 mph range. Perhaps another reason would be that the Cleveland brass doesn’t want to come to terms with the fact they traded Cliff Lee (along with Ben Francisco) for Lou Marson, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald and a right-handed reliever. Eventually, even these motives won’t be enough to save Carrasco from being sent to the bullpen or demoted to Class AAA Columbus Clippers.