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Briefly: The Return of Carlos Carrasco

In all likelihood, we'll be watching Carlos Carrasco pitch in Cleveland sometime soon and, to his credit, he appears ready to do so. Since June, Carlos has been striking out well over 20% of the batters he faces while also maintaining a groundball percentage right around 50%. This is excellent work, obviously. His ERA has bounced around a bit but for the most part he's been solidly good and flashed his "top prospect" card often enough to keep us intrigued. He's flashed it his last two starts, for instance, going 13.0 IP, giving up only 2 runs (1 earned), and striking out 14 while walking none. This all follows his return from a foremarm strain, suffered in a game in which he'd already struck out 5 over 3.1 IP and during which his stuff drew rave reviews. 

Carrasco has really been excellent most of the year but his numbers have taken a significant hit because of his May, when he scuffled, posting a 5.33 ERA. CarCar is still in his age-23 season; compare that to Tomlin (25), Talbot (26), Huff (25), Laffey (25), and Masterson (25). Carrasco already carries the aura of a disappointment but that's only because he failed to reach his own lofty projections after he combined a great deal of raw stuff with some luck to get to AAA and appear to dominate the league at just 21 years old. My feeling is that his rapid advancement and coinciding decline in dominance contributed to him losing a great deal of his sheen while other players with more interrupted development paths, like De La Cruz or Hagadone for instance, maintained some allure. Despite this being KDLC's age-21 season and Carlos' age-23, only 17 months separate the two. Hagadone is older than Carlos, by about 14 months. If Carrasco's press agent had had the foresight to ask the young pitcher to wrench his elbow out of socket in 2007, would we be more taken with his current results now? 

Carrasco is still a very interesting prospect, a truly young player that appears at the top of his game, getting ready to come to Cleveland for the second time. So, I'm going to try to enjoy him in that context, an admittedly simpler one that doesn't insist I point out that Carrasco has not totally dominated AAA for an extended period of time or that he seemed comically overwhelmed in the majors last year, like Lucille Ball in a chocolate factory.

I'm taking this approach for two reasons-the first is that I think Carrasco was plain rushed, despite receiving relatively positive results up the ladder; I'm hopeful that last season's disastorous MLB debut was the necessary wake-up call, alerting him to the fact that he needed to learn some more before he could make the big jump. Carlos was long knocked for "make-up", for getting upset when he got in trouble, losing focus and losing games. Last night, for what it's worth, he avoided this expertly:

Scranton/WB Top 2nd

  • Juan Miranda singles on a line drive to right fielder Jose Constanza.
  • Jorge Vazquez reaches on fielding error by third baseman Jared Goedert. Juan Miranda to 3rd.
  • Colin Curtis out on a sacrifice fly to left fielder Drew Sutton. Juan Miranda scores.
  • Brandon Laird strikes out swinging.
  • Greg Golson strikes out swinging.

After Goedert, he of the nose-diving OPS, let him down, Carrasco buckled down and took care of business and, after that inning, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees never really threatened again. Now, this isn't hard evidence of some great developmental jump but it's still nice to see.

The second reason I'm choosing this context is because if we're going to have a new frontline starter anytime soon, it will probably be Carrasco; I want to be sucked into the fable of the hard thrower, the mythology of stuff, at least for a little while. I'm tired of praising our pitchers for being aggressive or strike-throwing or crafty or short. Carrasco and Carmona can sit off the side with Chris Perez and talk about their arms as gifts from god not implements with which they hope to reach arbitration.