It has been just over two months since Carlos Carrasco stepped away from the Indians, and baseball as a whole, to begin his battle with leukemia. Since then, many questions have come up on whether or not Carrasco could return to the mound in 2019.
To answer that question, look no further than Carrasco’s Monday night outing with the Akron Rubberducks. In one inning, Carrasco walked a batter, but struck out another and topped out his fastball at 97 mph. Not bad for his first in-game outing since early June.
With both Carrasco and Corey Kluber (fractured right forearm) working their way back from their respective ailments, many fans are wondering what the Indians rotation, and bullpen for that matter, could look like come October and November, should the team make it that far. Kluber has since been shut down for two weeks after straining an abdominal muscle, so that brings us back to Carrasco.
Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger make good picks to start games in a five or seven-game series. Why not stick Carrasco in the bullpen with his 97 mph fastball and wicked changeup to bridge the gap to the back end of the bullpen for a postseason win?
While Carrasco has 78 career wins in almost 1,100 IP as a starting pitcher, his career began as a reliever. In 62 career innings coming out of the bullpen, Carrasco has a 5-2 record with an ERA of 2.32. Some of Carrasco’s early performances as a starter did not go so well due to the adjustment of starting but make no mistake about it, he has the experience and could do it again in a pinch if it meant helping the team win.
In his last 15 games, Brad Hand is 2-1, but has a 6.14 ERA and has blown each of his last three save opportunities. Fatigue could be setting in as Hand was used a lot in the first half. Meanwhile, Nick Goody, Tyler Clippard, and Nick Wittgren are a combined 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA in each of their last 15 appearances. Adding a healthy Carrasco to this mix could be a key component to getting Hand some rest while he battles back from his recent rough patch. The three-time All-Star closer will be needed if the Indians are going to win close games in October.
Carrasco wouldn’t be the end-all-be-all to the Indians winning the World Series this year, and the combination of him and Kluber would make the bullpen a little more dangerous, but the possibility of Carrasco coming back and adding a boost to the back of the bullpen that could use it, should give fans a positive outlook.
Carrasco’s Thursday night appearance with the Rubberducks should add just a little bit more of excitement. In 1.2 IP, Carrasco sat down the first three batters in order with two strikeouts. In all, Carrasco faced six batters, striking out four, with 25 pitches (17 strikes). His velocity stayed in the low-to-mid 90s range.
If Carrasco’s rehab appearances continue to show positive signs, he could back in an Indians uniform at a ballpark near you soon.