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.
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.