Carlos Carrasco

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Carlos Luis Carrasco
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Biographical Information[edit]

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Carlos Carrasco was an 18 game winner in 2017, establishing himself as one of the Cleveland Indians most prized arms a few years after being acquired in a deal for Cliff Lee. In 2019, he overcame an in-season leukemia diagnosis to make his way back to a big league mound.

Carrasco was signed by scout Sal Agostinelli for the Phillies in November 2003 at 16. He debuted professionally in 2004, going 5-4 with a 3.56 ERA for the GCL Phillies. Baseball America rated him the #14 prospect in the Gulf Coast League. He had a tough 2005 with a 1-10 record at three stops: 1-7, 7.04 for the Lakewood Blue Claws (allowing a .302 average), 0-3, 13.50 for the Batavia Muckdogs (.392 opponent average, 8 home runs in 15 1/3 innings) and 0-0, 1.80 for the GCL Phillies. He broke out in 2006, winning the Paul Owens Award as the top pitcher in the Phillies chain and being named the Phillies Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America. He allowed a .182 average (.186 to righties and .178 to lefties), lowest in the Phils system, while finishing 12-6 with a 2.26 ERA for Lakewood, allowing 103 hits in 159 1/3 innings and just 6 home runs after giving up 8 in his brief action with Batavia in 2005. He was 4th in the affiliated minor leagues in lowest average allowed following only Donald Veal, Philip Hughes and Matt Garza. Carlos was second in the South Atlantic League in ERA behind Matt Maloney and third in strikeouts behind teammates Maloney and Josh Outman as the BlueClaws had the league's top staff and won the title for the first time in franchise history. Carrasco also tied four others hurlers for the league lead with two complete games. He took a perfect game into the 8th inning against the Asheville Tourists and threw a combined no-hitter in another outing. He threw 1/3 of an inning in the 2006 Futures Game, allowing two hits in a shaky appearance as the World team lost 8-4. Baseball America rated Carrasco the SAL's #5 prospect, behind Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Fernando Martinez and Elvis Andrus, and ahead of all the other pitchers in the league, including Inman, Outman, Maloney and Clay Buchholz. The publication also rated him Philly's top prospect.

Carrasco had another fine year in 2007. He went 6-2 with a 2.84 ERA and .199 opponent average for the Clearwater Threshers and made the Florida State League midseason All-Star team. He was picked for the 2007 Futures Game and pitched the second inning, relieving Rick Vanden Hurk. He retired Steve Pearce on a pop-up and fanned Brent Lillibridge. Jay Bruce tripled and Chris Coghlan drew a four-pitch walk but Carrasco recovered to fan Bryan Anderson; Fautino De Los Santos replaced him in the third. Carrasco was promoted to the Reading Phillies and had a 6-4, 4.86 record, with 46 walks in 70 1/3 innings including a no-hitter against the Altoona Curve. Baseball America rated him the 6th best prospect in the FSL, between Johnny Cueto and Ian Kennedy, and again ranked him the top Phillies prospect. Carlos split 2008 between Class AA Reading, where he was 7-7, and the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, for which he was 2-2 with a sparkling 1.72 ERA. His overall record was 9-9, 3.69 with 155 strikeouts in 151 innings. Baseball America ranked him the 6th best prospect in the Eastern League, between Jordan Zimmermann and Fernando Martinez. He returned to Lehigh Valley in 2009, going 6-9, 5.18 in 20 starts.

Even after this disappointing performance, he was easily the top prize in the package of four players put together by the Phillies to acquire AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians at the trading deadline. Carlos started 6 games for the Columbus Clippers and pitched lights out, with a 5-1 record, 3.19 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 42 innings. He finished the IL season first with 148 strikeouts (8 ahead of Wade Davis) and tied for fourth in wins (with Drew Carpenter and Andy Mitchell). That earned him a call to the big leagues as soon as the rosters expanded on September 1st and he made his debut that day, starting for the Indians against the Detroit Tigers. It was a rough welcome to the bigs: he was rocked for 9 hits, 3 walks and 6 runs in 3 innings and was charged with the loss. He went 0-4, 8.87 in 5 starts for the Indians that first season. In 2010, Carrasco again began the season in the minors before earning a September call up. In the minors, he went 10-6, 3.65 in 25 starts for Columbus, pitching 150 1/3 innings and striking out 133 batters. He tied for 9th in the IL in wins, 9th in ERA (between Richard De Los Santos and Matt Chico) and fourth in whiffs (behind Dillon Gee, Todd Redmond and Carlos Torres). In the big leagues, he was 2-2, 3.83 in 7 starts, improving markedly over his first taste the previous year. He earned his first big league win on September 17th, when he pitched 6 innings and gave up 3 runs in an 11-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. He made the Indians' staff out of spring training in 2011 and made 21 starts before his season was cut short by injuries which required a stint on the disabled list and an elbow problem forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery. He went 8-9, 4.62 during his stint in the majors, pitching 124 2/3 innings. In his penultimate game, on July 29th, he threw a pitch at the head of Kansas City's Billy Butler, earning a six-game suspension. The surgery prevented him from serving the suspension, and he missed the entire 2012 season recovering.

In spring training 2013 he looked solid, and the Indians put him on the roster for the season's first six days, in order for him to serve his suspension before going down to Columbus where he could pitch his way back. That decision meant that once he was ready, he would be able to play immediately. The Indians ultimately changed their mind and kept Carrasco once his suspension was served. After his return on April 9th, they may have regretted their decision, as not only was he roughed up by the New York Yankees for 7 runs in 3 2/3 innings, but he was again ejected from a game, this time for throwing at Kevin Youkilis following a home run by Robinson Cano. Carlos claimed after the game that he slipped on the mound, but umpire Jordan Baker did not even issue a warning before tossing Carrasco. On April 12th, he was suspended 8 games, which he would not serve immediately as he had been sent to the minors. He pitched 15 times for the Indians, including 7 starts, but the results were poor, with a record of 1-4, 6.75 and 64 hits allowed in 46 2/3 innings. He made the Indians' starting rotation out of spring training in 2014, but continued to struggle. After 4 starts, his record was 0-3, 6.95 and he was moved to the bullpen at the end of April, yielding his rotation spot to Zach McAllister. The move paid dividends, as he gradually returned his ERA to respectability. He was 3-4, 3.88 and had picked up his first career save when he returned to the starting rotation in August. His first two outings were excellent, as he pitched 5 scoreless innings to defeat the New York Yankees, 4-1, on August 10th, for his first win as a starter since 2011. He followed with 7 more scoreless innings in defeating the Baltimore Orioles, 6-0, on August 16th. On September 7th, he came within one out of his first career complete game and shutout when he was taken out after 8 2/3 innings with a 2-0 lead over the Chicago White Sox. There were two men on and manager Terry Francona called on closer Cody Allen to get the last out, as the win was crucial to keep touch with the leaders in the AL Central. He did record his first complete game on September 17th, a 2-0, two-hit shutout of the Houston Astros in which he walked one batter and struck out 12. He ended up with a record of 8-7 and an outstanding 2.55 ERA in 134 innings.

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On April 7, 2015, the Indians gave Carlos a vote a confidence when they signed him to a four-year contract worth $22 million. He was a winner in his first start of the season, on April 8th, when he pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros, but faced a scary moment in his second start on April 14th. Pitching against Melky Cabrera of the Chicago White Sox, he was hit in the right side of the face by a line drive, sending him to the ground. He was carted off the field as a precaution, but suffered no major injury. He only faced two batters that day, Adam Eaton and Cabrera, and both reached base, eventually scoring against Zach McAllister, saddling Carlos with a 4-1 loss. On July 1st, he came within one pitch of throwing a no-hitter as he gave up a two-out, two-strike single to Joey Butler of the Tampa Bay Rays to lose his bid at immortality. He had walked Asdrubal Cabrera and hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch earlier that inning, and Butler's single over Jason Kipnis' head drove in Cabrera, ending his night. Reliever Austin Adams recorded the final out and Carrasco had an 8-1 victory. On August 4th, he once again held an opponent to a single hit over 9 innings, a single by former teammate David Murphy in the 5th, but the Indians and Los Angeles Angels were locked in a scoreless tie when he left. It took three more innings until Giovanny Urshela settled the issue with a two-run homer in the 12th that gave Cleveland a 2-0 win. In his previous start on July 30th, he had pitched a complete game two-hitter in defeating the Oakland Athletics, 3-1, and between the two games retired 27 consecutive batters, with 12 2/3 innings between hits against him. On September 25th, he pitched an official one-hitter while striking out 15 in defeating the Kansas City Royals, 6-0, and this time he completed the game; the one hit was a single by Alex Rios. He finished the year with a record of 14-12, 3.63, and 216 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings.

Carrasco was having another strong season in 2016 when he suffered an injury just as the Indians were about to clinch a division title. On September 17th, he was hit on his pitching hand by a line drive off the bat of Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers on the second pitch of a start. The hit broke a bone in his hand, keeping him out indefinitely and creating a huge hole in Cleveland's starting rotation. He did not pitch again that season and finished at 11-8, 3.32 in 25 starts (146 1/3 innings). He missed the Indians' run to Game 7 of the 2016 World Series as a result. He was back in 2017 and pitching well again. On August 11th, he re-visited the locale of his near no-hitter of 2015, this time holding the Rays hitless until there were two outs in the 7th before Logan Morrison broke up the bid with a single. He was a 5-0 winner to improve to 11-5 on the year. On September 6th, he pitched a complete game to defeat the Chicago White Sox, 5-1, for a team record-tying 14th straight win by the Indians; he was one out away from a shutout, but Adam Engel homered with two outs in the 9th. He finished the season at 18-6, 3.29, his 18 wins tying for the AL lead. He reached the 200-inning plateau for the first time, with exactly 200, and set a personal best for strikeouts with 226, 5th most in the league. In the Division Series, he started Game 3 against the New York Yankees on October 8th and allowed no runs in 5 2/3 innings, but was not involved in the decision as Cleveland lost the game, 1-0. It was his postseason debut.

In 2018, he picked up where he left off the previous year, winning five of his first six decisions. On May 9th, he had a particularly good day as he pitched a complete game and struck out 14 batters in defeating the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-2. He was one of four Indians starters to record over 200 strikeouts - the first time a team achieved this, finishing with 231 in 192 innings. His record was 17-10, 3.38 and he led the AL with 2 complete games. He started Game 2 of the Division Series against the Houston Astros but was charged with the loss in a 3-1 game after giving up 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings. On December 6th, the Indians signed him to a new contract extension for four years worth $47 million. On June 5, 2019, he was placed on the injured list with a blood disorder that had made him feel lethargic. He was expected to be out for an extended period as he needed to "explore the optimal treatment and recovery options." He was 4-6, 4.98 in 12 starts at the time, and was one of only 6 AL pitchers to record a shutout during the season's early going. On July 6th, he revealed that the illness was leukemia. He added that he expected to be able to play again at the end of the month. On August 19th he returned to the mound on a rehab assignment with the Akron Rubber Ducks of the Eastern League. He hit 97 mph on the radar gun, a very positive sign. He returned to the Indians on September 1st, entering a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the 8th inning. He gave up a run on two hits in his inning of work which concluded an 8-2 loss at Tropicana Field. He finished the season at 6-7, 5.29 in 23 games, only pitching in relief after his return. After the year, he was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year for his courageous battle to return from the serious disease. He also won the Roberto Clemente Award in recognition of his on-field excellence and community work.

He seemed to be back to his old form when the 2020 season finally started in late July, making his first start in over a year on July 26th against the Kansas City Royals. He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings, while striking out 10, to pick up the win. He ended up making 12 starts and going 3-4, 2.91 with 82 strikeouts in 68 innings. The Indians returned to the postseason and he started Game 2 of the Wild card Series against the New York Yankees on September 30th. However, just like his teammate Shane Bieber the day before, his start was not at the level of his regular season performance as he allowed 4 runs in 3 innings in a game the Indians lost by a score of 10-9 to be swept out of the series. On January 7, 2021 he was traded to the New York Mets alongside SS Francisco Lindor in return for four young players, IFs Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, P Josh Wolf and OF Isaiah Greene. However, his debut with the Mets was delayed as he tore his hamstring performing running sprints during spring training. He had started camp battling elbow soreness and had not yet appeared in a game when he suffered the injury during routine conditioning drills on March 18th, putting him on the shelf for at least a month.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2019 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
  • AL Wins Leader (2017)
  • AL Complete Games Leader (2018)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (2017 & 2018)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2017)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 3 (2015, 2017 & 2018)

Sources[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jordan Bastian: "Carrasco poised to answer to call of ace: Right-hander blossoming into one of game's top hurlers", mlb.com, February 24, 2016. [1]
  • Jordan Bastian: "Carrasco expects to be ready for Opening Day: Tribe righty '100 percent' after breaking hand in September, throwing with no issues", mlb.com, December 19, 2016. [2]
  • Mandy Bell: "Carlos Carrasco reveals he’s battling leukemia", mlb.com, July 6, 2019. [3]

Related Sites[edit]