Carlos Carrasco

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Carlos Luis Carrasco

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Biographical Information[edit]

Carlos Carrasco was twice named the top prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, in 2006 and 2007, and made his debut with the Cleveland Indians in 2009 after being involved in a deal at the trading deadline.

Carrasco was signed by scout Sal Agostinelli for the Phillies in November of 2003, at age 16. He debuted professionally in 2004, going 5-4 with a 3.56 ERA for the GCL Phillies. Baseball America rated the youngster as the #14 prospect in the Gulf Coast League.

Carrasco had a miserable 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 HR in 15 1/3 IP) and 0-0, 1.80 for the GCL Phillies.

The Venezuelan right-hander had a breakout year in 2006. He won the Paul Owens Award as the top pitcher in the Phillies chain and Baseball America named him the Phillies Minor League Player of the Year. He allowed a .182 average, lowest in the Phils system, and a vast improvement over 2005. He went 12-6 with a 2.26 ERA for Lakewood and allowed 103 hits in 159 1/3 innings and just 6 home runs after giving up 8 in his brief action with Batavia in 2005. Carrasco allowed a .178 average to lefties and .186 to righties. 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 was third in strikeouts behind teammates Maloney and Josh Outman as the BlueClaws had the league's top staff and went on to win the title for the first time in franchise history. Carrasco also tied four others hurlers for the league lead with two complete games. Carrasco took a perfect game into the 8th inning against the Asheville Tourists and threw a combined no-hitter in another outing. He threw a third of an inning in the 2006 Futures Game, allowing two hits in a shaky appearance as the World team lost 8-4. Carrasco was left off the SAL post-season All-Star team in favor of Will Inman. Baseball America rated Carrasco as 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 as the top Philadelphia prospect.

Carrasco had another fine year in 2007. The 20-year-old went 6-2 with a 2.84 ERA and .199 opponent average for the Clearwater Threshers and made the Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star team. He was picked for the 2007 Futures Game and pitched the second inning, relieving Rick Vanden Hurk. Carrasco 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 Carrasco on the mound for the World Team in the third inning. 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 as the #6 prospect in the FSL, between Johnny Cueto and Ian Kennedy and again ranked him as the #1 Phillies prospect.

Carrasco 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 as the #6 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. In spite of this disappointing performance, he was probably the top prize in the package of four players put together by the Phillies to acquire 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians at the trading deadline. He started 6 games for the Columbus Clippers and pitched lights out, with a 5-1 record, a 3.19 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 42 innings. He finished the 2009 International League 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 very day, starting for the Indians against the Detroit Tigers. It was a rough welcome to the Show, however, as 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 to Cleveland. 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 2010 IL in wins, 9th in ERA (between Richard De Los Santos and Matt Chico) and was 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 of the Show 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. Carrasco made the Indians' staff out of spring training in 2011 and made 21 starts before his season as cut short by injuries which required a sting on the disabled list and a rehabilitation start in Akron in June, and then ended his season in early August when 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 him a six-game suspension. However, the surgery prevented him from serving the suspension, and he then missed the entire 2012 season while recovering.

In spring training in 2013, he showed that he was on his way to returning to the majors, and the Indians decided to put him on the roster for the season's first six days, in order for him to serve his suspension before going down to AAA Columbus where he could pitch his way back into major league shape. That decision meant that once he was ready, he would be able to play immediately for Cleveland, without having first to serve the five days (the length of the suspension had been reduced in the meantime). The Indians changed their mind, however, and kept Carrasco with the club once his suspension was served. After his return to the majors 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 had slipped on the mound, but umpire Jordan Baker did not even feel the need to issue a warning before tossing Carrasco. On April 12th, he was handed a suspension of 8 games, which he would not serve immediately as he had been sent to the minor leagues after his poor performance. He ended up pitching 15 times for the Indians, including 7 starts, but the results were poor, as attested by a record of 1-4, 6.75 and 64 hits allowed in 46 2/3 innings. He still managed to make the Indians' starting rotation out of spring training in 2014, but he 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 spot in the rotation to Zach McAllister. The move to the bullpen paid dividends, as he gradually managed to return his ERA to respectable territory. He was at 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 that up 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. However, there were two men on and manager Terry Francona called on closer Cody Allen to get the last out, as the win was crucial as the Indians were trying 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.

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 he 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 falling 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 and eventually came in to score against reliever Zach McAllister, saddling him 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 2B Jason Kipnis' head drove in Cabrera, ending his night of work. Reliever Austin Adams recorded the final out and Carrasco ended up with 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 of Anaheim were locked in a scoreless tie when he left the game. 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 and went 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, as 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. 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 ended up 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 128 wins being tied for the AL lead. He reached the 200-inning plateau for the first time, ending up with exactly that total, and also 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 career postseason debut.

In 2018, he started off just where he had left things the previous year, as he won five of his first six decisions. On May 9th, he had a particularly good outing 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 had 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 a loss after giving up 2 runs ion 5 1/3 innings in a 3-1 loss. After the season, the Indians signed him to a contract extension of four years worth $47 million on December 6th.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 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)


Further Reading[edit]

  • Jordan Bastian: "Carrasco poised to answer to call of ace: Right-hander blossoming into one of game's top hurlers",, 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",, December 19, 2016. [2]

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