Tribe Talk: Carrasco Making a Surge

For most of the spring, we looked at the Indians last two open rotation spots as a three man race. Right hander Mitch Talbot and lefties Aaron Laffey and David Huff have been locked in a tight one since pitchers and catchers reported. However, a fourth name is trying his best to make his presence felt.

Carlos Carrasco.

The one time untouchable Phillies prospect who came over in the Cliff Lee deal has been outstanding his last two times out. Against the Rockies and the Brewers, the 23 year old righty pitched nine scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out seven and walking three. This is the kind of action the Tribe front office has been hoping for since Carrasco came over at the deadline last year.

“He’s pitched his way right into the conversation,” pitching coach Tim Belcher said of Carrasco. “Not that he wasn’t before, but he was on the younger end of all those guys, with less experience at Triple-A and less experience at the big league level. Early on, you just figure the best thing for him would be going to [Triple-A] Columbus. But with the way he’s pitched, and with Huff and Laffey struggling a little bit, he’s going to stay right in the mix until the middle of next week.”

Ah yes, David Huff. The soft-tossing lefty who led the Indians with 11 wins last year, may be losing his grip on a major league roster spot. He had a chance yesterday to really leave a big impression on his new coaching staff. Instead, he could finish the fifth inning because he had already thrown too many pitches. Though he only allowed one run, Huff put eight runners on base; five via the hit, along with three walks. In his last three appearances, Huff has been spotty at best. His stats: 11.2 IP/9 ER/17 hits/4 walks/5 K’s.

That my friends, is not the way to make the roster.

Laffey has been decent, but not great, posting a 3.07 ERA in five outings (five earned runs in 14.2 IP). However, he relieved Huff yesterday and threw four scoreless innings. A big time performance in a big time spot. The thing about Laffey is he has had some success at the big league level and if not for injuries during the past two seasons, would be a mainstay. I still am of the opinion that he has yet to be given a real chance to become what I think he can be, which is a left-handed Jake Westbrook.

“They’ve both had their ups and downs,” said Acta. “At the end of the day, they both know what we want them to do. They’re human. Just because we want them to do it, doesn’t mean they’re going to do it all the time.”

Talbot seemed to be a lock to make the roster one way or another as he is out of options and is the man the Indians received in the Kelly Shoppach trade. Meanwhile, he has been the best of the bunch, carrying an 0.79 ERA in four appearances, spanning 11.1 innings.

Back to Carrasco. You’ve got to credit the kid for putting the past hype that he has yet to fulfill behind him and concentrate on his personal improvement. You forget he is only 23. “I want to prove they can trust me,” Carrasco said, “and that I can make the team and keep the ball down.”

Whatever way it goes, expect to see all four up at some point making starts for the big club. The good news is that Jeremy Sowers name seems to be nowhere to be found these days.

  • Lloyd Braun

    TD –

    Totally agree about Sowers. It is very good news that his name is not being mentioned for that last spot.

    Carrasco has been very encouraging. I doubt he makes the rotation, but he has all the tools to be a very good pitcher. Hopefully he continues to improve.

  • MP34

    What does it mean when a player is “out of options” at the big league level? In context I understand it but I don’t really know what it means.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-6513-Cleveland-Sports-Examiner clevexaminer

    Carrasco’s hot and cold streaks remind me of another Indians pitcher with a high ceiling who underachieved the last few seasons. Like everything else when dealing with the tribe, I’m cautiously optimistic

  • JD

    @ MP34 – It means that the player cannot be sent back to the minor leagues without being placed on waivers, which means that any team who wants him can claim him.

    I find that the way Carrasco has pitched lately to be very encouraging, and *hopefully* his awful September starts were a result of some adrenaline-related over-throwing that left everything a little too straight and a little too up in the zone.

    If I had to guess, Laffey & Talbot make the team and get the last two rotation spots with Carrasco and Huff headed back to AAA. It might do Huff some good to head back to Columbus and learn how to miss bats again; this is a guy who averaged over 8 strikeouts per 9 innings in the minors but then average less than five Ks per nine in the majors.

  • b

    I’d love to see Carrasco come up and be a strong #3/4 rotation member in a full big league season. He got knocked aroudn a LOT at the end of the last season, but hopefully he’ll learn from that and come back smarter. Anyone know what happened to our Rule V pick, Hector Ambriz? Haven’t heard much about him lately, was he sold back?

  • MP34

    @JD,

    Thanks.