Carlos Carrasco was demoted to the Cleveland Indians‘ bullpen in the middle of last week after another one of his scheduled starts was skipped. But that doesn’t mean that Carrasco has to take it as a demotion. He is better off looking at it as a chance to reinvent himself as a pitcher.
It is widely known that starting pitchers are more valuable than relievers, as demonstrated by the much larger contracts that starters receive. But this doesn’t mean relievers aren’t important. Obviously closers and setup men are vital pieces to a successful team, but the middle and long relievers play a crucial role in bridging the gap from starter to closer. Carrasco is being placed into that role right now, and he has the tools thrive in it.
There were many problems that Carrasco had while starting for the Indians the past couple years, but a few of these issues could be resolved while pitching in the bullpen. One big reason Carrasco is more likely to succeed out of the pen is that he will not have to conserve energy. Carrasco mostly stayed at the low 90s with his fastball as a starting pitcher. But as a reliever, he is not expected to throw extended innings (unless he is in a long relief situation of course) and will be able to throw the heater up into the mid to high 90s. This is a major difference to hitters and will increase the difference in velocity between his fastball and off-speed stuff.
The other difference that will help Carrasco’s cause as a reliever is that he will rarely have to face the same batter twice in one game. The 27-year-old often ran into to trouble when facing a lineup the second and third times throughout a contest, and typically he couldn’t pitch past the five inning mark. In this role, hitters will only see him once in a game which can only help Carrasco keep hitters off the base paths.
Those few reasons are all well and good, but ultimately Carrasco’s success will depend on throwing strikes. Being in the bullpen should encourage the right-hander to stay aggressive against hitters, but you never really know what you’re going to get when calling on Carrasco to step on the mound.