A bright light is appearing down with the Columbus Clippers in the midst of the Indians’ recent summer struggles. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco has been cruising recently following a forearm injury and he looks to earn an easy promotion to Cleveland as September rolls around.
Considering the recent misfourtunes of Justin Masterson, this could be a very intriguing situation for the Tribe in the end. Even manager Manny Acta had some choice words concerning the two pitchers in a recent interview with Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal:
”Justin Masterson will probably meet his innings requirements by the second week of September,” Acta said Sunday to the ABJ. ”We want to limit him to about 180, but he doesn’t have to get every single one of them. If we bring up a starter, Masterson could finish his innings out of the bullpen. For sure, we’re going to see Carlos.”
All of this could signal a massive shift in philosophy for the team as the season nears it painful end. No matter what, it should be rewarding to see Carrasco back in the red and blue.
If everyone recalls, as of mid-June, only five starting pitchers had began a game for the Indians at all. Of course, injuries and troubles from lefty David Huff followed, but the key here is that the entire organization focused upon a consistent starting five for the season’s first one-third set of games.
With Huff on the verge of another promotion however, this could mean the beginning of a six-man rotation for Cleveland at the end of the season. Even if Masterson shifts to the bullpen, general manager Mark Shapiro and company could be counting upon subsequent promotions for Corey Kluber and Alex White to fill the Columbus rotation.
In his first three starts back there were some concerns as his velocity was only at 89-91 MPH as compared to the 93-96 MPH it had been at all year prior to the injury setback, but in his outing yesterday he was consistently in the low 90s and was often touching 93-94 MPH. It looks like he has regained the confidence to let it loose with his fastball, where with the impeccable command he has shown of late should only help. On top of that he is pitching a lot more with his curveball, which as been a big reason he has been so effective of late.
So his velocity is up and his off-speed stuff is working, things that any pitcher will need to succeed at the MLB level. If everyone recalls, Carrasco was a top prospect in all of baseball for several years and still is only 23 years old.
He has more highly regarded upper-level potential for the future than Jeanmar Gomez or Josh Tomlin and could be a huge part of the team’s rotation next year. The fact that he spent all of this season in Triple-A is a bit of a surprise, but his recent injury might have deterred another possible time for a promotion.
During his September stint in Cleveland last year, he finished 0-4 with an 8.87 ERA in his five starts. The experience might have rattled his confidence a bit, but he is now a seasoned veteran in the International League. Across 56 outings in the past three years, he is 23-18 with a 3.95 ERA but his 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings alongside only 2.8 walks leaves plenty of room for optimism.
Despite a rough record and an overall tough season, the Indians still have many things to look forward to in the final month of the season. One will certainly be the development of a certain Carlos Carrasco as he yet again attempts to deliver upon his prospect status.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.