If you had to take a guess as to how the 2014 season might look for Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, look no further back than March 19.
Carrasco had just pitched in a spring training game for the Indians, and the results weren’t pretty. The right-hander allowed eight runs (five earned) in 2 2/3 innings of work.
After the start, the usually hyper-positive Terry Francona described Carrasco’s performance as “a frustrating outing.” Francona has probably not used the term “frustrating” in regard to one of his players before or since this incident.
It appeared as if 2014 was setting up to be more of the same for Carrasco — his talent level has always been tantalizing, yet outside of one month in 2011, he’s seemed to struggle to put it all together.
Still, Carrasco remained the heavy favorite to exit spring training with a spot in the starting rotation. He and his 97-mile per hour fastball remained a valuable commodity, and he was also out of options. If he was not in the rotation, he would have been in the bullpen, and it just had to work this time, right? Could a guy this talented really continue to struggle for this long?
The answers to those two questions are both yes and no.
At the onset of the 2014 season, it appeared as if Francona’s words in spring training were indeed a precursor of things to come. In his first four outings, Carrasco was dreadful.
His control was off.
Hitters were teeing off on his fastball.
He quickly fell to 0-3 in those four starts and sported a 6.95 ERA.
Just like that, Carrasco was now the latest member of the Indians’ bullpen.
Yet, then, something changed. Continue reading