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Carrasco removed from rotation, McAllister to start Wednesday

Carrasco removed from rotation, McAllister to start Wednesday
Carlos Carrasco's days as a starting pitcher with the Indians are apparently over. (Photo: AP)
April 29, 2014
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Indians manager Terry Francona informed the media on Monday night that right-handed pitcher Carlos Carrasco has been removed from the starting rotation.

"We've put Carlos in the bullpen," Francona told Indians reporters after the game on Monday night. "That way we kind of fortify our bullpen. Hopefully, we can get him on a roll and he can help us out there."

Carrasco, 27, was 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts. He is averaging more than a strikeout an inning and has some good peripheral numbers, but his penchant for allowing a good amount of baserunners and not keeping them from scoring really hurt his chances to stick in the rotation. His comments to the media over the weekend about his delivery changes may have been the final straw which pushed him out of the rotation a little sooner than expected.

The move so early in the season is unfortunate as the Indians decision to go with Carrasco as the fifth starter from the outset of the offseason cost them Aaron Harang who is off to a great start with the Braves. In five starts Harang is 3-1 with a league leading 0.85 ERA.

Carrasco will now get a chance to shine as a reliever, something that he did last season in a short sample size of eight appearances when he compiled a 1.32 ERA, .156 batting average against and 2.20 strikeout to walk ratio - numbers which were all signficantly better out of the bullpen than as a starter. It will be interesting to see how his early season peripheral numbers translate to the bullpen, and if they do, then the Indians may have themselves a potential impactful bullpen arm on the horizon.

Zach McAllister will start on short rest on Wednesday, though the Indians are comfortable with him starting since he threw just 75 pitches in his start on Saturday. Also, Carrasco would seemingly be in line to piggyback McAllister if he is unable to get through five or six innings.

As to who replaces Carrasco in the rotation? The Indians have yet to fomally announce such a decision. With an off day on Thursday they will not need a fifth starter until next Tuesday May 6th when they host the Twins. The expectation is that Trevor Bauer will slide into that spot, especially with the way he has pitched this season and his service time clock has conveniently aligned.

The other decision to be made will be whether the Indians send down a reliever to activate Bauer or if they send out a position player. C.C. Lee could be in danger of being optioned to Columbus, but he has pitched well and Francona likes his eight-man bullpen. Elliot Johnson would seem to be the best option to go, though he might go before then when the Indians add a catcher this week once Yan Gomes goes on paternity leave. If that happens, then the catcher that is added would likely go in order to add a fifth starter.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

Walter
April 30, 2014 - 12:07 PM EDT
I think Carrasco problems are similar to another player in Alfredo Simon.

In 2011 Simon was a starter with the Orioles, was getting terrible results. Record 4-9 4.90 ERA . He also had very little success during 08-10 seasons with the O's.

At the beginning 2012 the O's put him on waivers, and the Red picked him up. For the next 2 yrs he was in the Reds bullpen for long to middle relief. The pitching coach, now manager Bryan Price worked on the mechanics of his delivery. Simon had 2 successful yrs in the bullpen and got his confidence back.

2014 Mat Latos goes down with knee and arm injury during spring training. The Reds decided to move Simon into the starting rotation, The current results is he is 4-1 1.60 ERA. He now wants to stay permanently in the rotation.

Maybe Carrasco need to spend time in the bullpen to perfect his new delivery and regain his confidence. Maybe some where down the road we might see Carrasco as a starter again. You never know.
Hermie13
April 30, 2014 - 11:09 AM EDT
Yeah good point on Carrasco maybe not being with the team by the end of the year. Non-tender candidate even if he lasts the year (will be arbitration eligible this winter).


I do still think he could return to starting, though probably not with Cleveland. We did see Westbrook bounce around a lot early on, finally after 7 perfect innings in relief got a long-term shot at the rotation and stuck. Carrasco is no Westbrook mentally but I've seen stranger things. Change of scenery is probably in order though.
Tony
April 30, 2014 - 8:17 AM EDT
Unless the Indians have a rash of injuries and need another starter, I believe Carrasco's starting days with the Indians are over. I can't see how anyone would feel comfortable with him as a fifth starter candidate next spring for a third consecutive year. Again, if injuries force it to happen so be it, but otherwise I am ready to move on. Plus there is no guarantee that Carrasco is even still with this team by the end of this season.
Joe Chengery
April 30, 2014 - 4:02 AM EDT
Slight correction: Bailey has 148 ML career starts, Masterson has 151 (141 with the Indians), so not quite over 150, but comparable, still about three to four times the starting experience of a Carrasco at comparable ages.
Joe Chengery
April 30, 2014 - 3:59 AM EDT
I was not aware of the comments Carrasco made about his delivery adjustments after his last start- that likely didn't help his case to have more time in the rotation.

It is disappointing- like Rich, it's probably not totally out of the question for him to maybe get a spot start if needed, or maybe to be in consideration if/when Masterson departs. Though did the Indians partly move him to the bullpen so that what he is more comfortable in doing with his delivery is more effective (i.e. He can air it out more and only face a lineup once or twice at most)? If that's the case, it would be doubtful he'll be moved back into the rotation because he still won't be comfortable repeating the delivery changes if he reverts back to his old throwing motion in the bullpen.

OhioBaseball, as I mentioned in another thread, while Carrasco is 27, he's only made 44 ML starts over that time, equivalent to a second-year starter, and 52 total ML appearances, equivalent to a first-year or second-year reliever- his struggling and failing to show us something consistently isn't uncommon with that little experience. If he was as experienced as say, Masterson or Cincinnati's Homer Bailey (both with over 150 ML starts) and was erratic as Bailey was (and Masterson to a but lesser extent), then I'd think Carrasco should have shown us something consistently by now.

With Carrasco's lack of experience, it's not out of the question for him to be the late bloomer type as some pitchers turn out to be. Unfortunately, the Indians' rotation struggles where only McAllister has shown any real consistency (and he even only faltered in his last start, no better than Carrasco, further proving that Carrasco wasn't pitching that badly- Masterson, Kluber, and Salazar have had worse outings), the Indians felt they needed a rotation spot and opted to move Carrasco out instead of Salazar. I do wonder if Salazar would have been the guy if not for the outing on Sunday, as Bauer is matched up perfectly with him, not Carrasco, and I'm not sure starting McAllister on short rest was the Indians' first, preferred option.

With all of this being said, the Indians' offense still must do better. Kipnis' injury does leave an interesting thought and opportunity: Will Johnson do more than just sit on the bench, or could Ramirez have an opportunity for some regular playing time at 2B in Kipnis' absence?
Roger
April 29, 2014 - 10:54 PM EDT
additionally do not discount House he is left handed and 1.42 era is good. He doesnt have the track record of bauer and tomln however they are right handers he is left handed so maybe that is something worth considering.
Rich
April 29, 2014 - 9:43 PM EDT
Just to put some numbers on it, Carrasco's biggest problem has been pitching from the stretch.

None on: .216/.683
Runners on: .394/.951
RISP: .435/.961

That's about as dramatic a split as I've ever seen. He totally falls apart as soon as anybody gets on base. He's either unable to throw his pitches effectively from the stretch or he just loses his concentration on the batter when he has to hold baserunners. Or maybe he doesn't want to throw his breaking ball with runners on and resorts to the fastball, and gets hammered. Or he chokes under pressure.

If they're going to use him out of the pen they need to bring him in to start an inning, not with runners on.

By the way, his BAA for pitches 1-15 is .333, for 16-30 it's .400, from 31-45 it's .250, and from 46-60 it's .118 (2-for-17). Those numbers surprised me because I thought he was great the first time through the order and got lit up the second time through, but not according to those numbers. Unless these numbers change dramatically he won't be effective out of the pen, either.
Rich
April 29, 2014 - 9:33 PM EDT
They're trying to get Carrasco to tweak his delivery to add more deception and increase the velocity on his fastball. He gave them some resistance, got lit up, and now he's in the bullpen. I think part of the demotion is to send him a message - shape up and pitch the way you're told because what you're doing isn't working.

If he makes the change successfully and starts putting up numbers like he did last year in the pen, he might get a spot start when they need someone to fill in for a makeup game. That's when he'll have a chance to get another shot at the rotation.

Masterson is pretty sure to be gone next year which opens up a spot. If Carrasco can dedicate the rest of this season to putting his mechanics in order and doing exactly what Callaway wants him to (keeping in mind that Callaway fixed Ubaldo last year), then he could put himself in the mix for another shot next year when Masterson leaves.
Jimmy
April 29, 2014 - 7:24 PM EDT
Elliot has played very little and really don't know why he is still up when they don't let him play. It seem that Murphy has taken over right field mainly whether batting against right or left handed pitcher??? What happened to Ryan??? Only Terry knows.
Willie
April 29, 2014 - 7:08 PM EDT
Btw, Baker reportedly has a May 1st opt out date in his contract.
Willie
April 29, 2014 - 7:07 PM EDT
I will just throw this out there, although it seems like a move backward if anything...but might the Tribe be in on Scott Baker, they were reportedly close to a deal with him in ST.

I think Chris Cotillo of mlb.com? Suggested as much, but I'm not sure if they are looking for depth or more.
Seth
April 29, 2014 - 6:39 PM EDT
Will be interesting to see how the bullpen works out for him. Seems he's had trouble out of the stretch this year. Fangraphs did a pretty good analysis on Carrasco recently because he's such a weirdo, his curve, slider, and change have all had success but his fastball gets killed. Seems to me his command has just been really bad post-surgery. Inconsistency, as you said Tony, he'd have innings where he'd hit his spots and look unhittable, then other innings he'd have no clue where it was going, and walk guys and serve up meatballs. Some inconsistency is ok out of the bullpen, if you don't have it, you get pulled after a couple batters and hopefully the next guy performs better. And the fastball should play up when he can really air it out for an inning at a time.
Tony
April 29, 2014 - 5:43 PM EDT
Avory, I get what you are saying, but we are talking about a 7-start stretch three years ago. Since then he has struggled with consistency both last year and this year. I am not sure why we should hold out so long on him when we could almost make an endless case for numerous pitchers to start based on a good 7-game stretch over the last three years. I agree the strikeouts and stuff are nice to see from Carrasco, but again, sometimes guys are just better off in the bullpen. Also, I disagree that Carrasco has three elite pitches. He has a good but not great fastball (not elite as it lacks top end velocity nor has much movement) and his curveball is pretty good. His changeup, curveball and slider are all average to plus pitches but nothing is plus-plus (elite). His biggest problem right now, sort of like Salazar, is his fastball is too damn straight and hittable. Which is a problem no matter how good your stuff is and why sometimes such guys work better as relievers.
Big Al
April 29, 2014 - 5:20 PM EDT
Hey Avory Jeremy Sowers had a pretty good 14 start stretch in 2006 should we give him another shot too. Give me a break Carrasco can't make adjustments and doesn't have a reliable third pitch or second pitch for that matter.

Put him in the bullpen and let him blow people away Jose Mesa style. (Note: Don't let him pitch in game seven of the World Series)
Tony
April 29, 2014 - 4:51 PM EDT
I agree Ohio Baseball. They are in no way giving up on him, as they shouldn't. Perhaps he goes to the bullpen and shines.

I noted this in the Second Thoughts thread, but will add it here. We keep hearing K/9 this. xFIP that. ERA here. LOB% there. A lot of these numbers appear to being used in a vacuum. I mean, Cody Allen has a 13.5 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, .375 BABIP, 80.8% LOB%, 2.53 ERA, 2.71 FIP and 2.71 xFIP. Should we be clamoring for him to be in the rotation as the numbers suggest? He has every bit the impressive arsenal as Carrasco. Obviously he is not someone to figure into the rotation, which is why things often times goes beyond the numbers but the quality of the innings, the effectiveness of the stuff over a longer duration of innings, and so on. With all of the numbers I keep seeing posted about Carrasco I keep seeing more evidence that he could be a pretty damn good reliever along the lines of Cody Allen. Look at Carrasco's history facing a lineup a second or third time versus one time. In short stints and facing a lineup once in the pen he could potentially be dominant, but in the rotation facing a lineup multiple times he continues to struggle. Sometimes a guy is just a reliever. You can't hold out forever for a guy to get it.
Avory
April 29, 2014 - 3:54 PM EDT
The idea that Carrasco is better in the bullpen is more suspect than the premise that he's unsuitable as a starter. Go back and look at each of his bullpen appearances last year and you'll be hard pressed to find (m)any that were significant in any respect. I liked the way his advanced metrics were trending this year, so I'm more than a little disappointed that he's going to the pen for now, but I'm not the one having to coach him, and that's the sole question mark for me. I'm finding it hard to believe that a guy who had that eight start stretch in 2011 right before his injury has suddenly been completely eliminated as a starting candidate for a team that is going to lose Justin Masterson after this season (if not before).
OhioBaseball
April 29, 2014 - 2:48 PM EDT
Trevor Bauer getting called up was inevitable. Moving Carrasco to the pen doesn't mean the Indians are giving up on him. He's obviously got potential to be a very good middle reliever and he can make a real positive contribution to the team that way.

I've loved Trevor Bauer for years and even so I think he's only got so many innings in his arm. When he was at UCLA his arm really had some usage -- he ran pitch counts above 120 often AND between innings he sometimes would go to the pen and throw a couple dozen pitches (with high effort) to stay warm. I'm not sure there's a perfect correlation between pitch counts and injury, but it's probably not good long-term. He's warm up routines were also widely questioned. I think predicting injuries is a fool's game, but if he's ready for MLB it's stupid to have him waste innings in Triple-A at this point given his service clock.

The Indians aren't a good enough team to sit and wait for Carlos Carrasco, a 27 year old, to see if he's really a MLB starter. He's not, otherwise he would have shown us by now. Let's move on.
Hermie13
April 29, 2014 - 2:23 PM EDT
Pretty much my sentiments too Seth.


One thing I'm interesting in is how much of a leash does Salazar have now? Good start in SF but up to that point was worse than Carrasco. If he were to revert back and struggle again over his next 3-4 starts...do you go with Tomlin or give Carrasco another shot should he pitch well out of the pen?
Seth
April 29, 2014 - 2:14 PM EDT
My feeling on the Carrasco removal, I liked giving him a shot as a starter out of spring training, and while it feels a little premature, I don't hate it. Seems he's struggled maintaining the delivery adjustment throughout his starts, and it would be surprising to suddenly see consistency from him. With the way Bauer's pitching, and Tomlin looking like a decent option, and Carrasco's comments after the last game, it was hard to see him suddenly turning it around where he would be a better option than Bauer. In some ways Carrasco's like Bauer last year, working on a delivery adjustment and struggling with consistency from it. He also should upgrade the bullpen.
Hermie13
April 29, 2014 - 1:57 PM EDT
Tribe did successfully convert Esmil Rogers to the pen (if only for a season) and as said in this article, the early results on Carrasco in the pen are encouraging....

Still a pretty disappointing outcome though. Pitched so well there in 2011 before the injury and looked like he was becoming the pitcher we hoped for when he was acquired...throw in the solid FIP/xFIP and the bump in K-rate this year....

Guess it just wasn't meant to be in Cleveland with Carrasco as a starter. Though who knows...maybe he does so well in the pen that the Tribe gives him a shot again (not holding my breath though)...wouldn't be the first time we've seen it in Cleveland...
rmacd
April 29, 2014 - 1:19 PM EDT
Infinite patients if a good ole boy little if not. Should have had at least 6 starts.

How about benching some for defensive lapses. No that wouldn't work it's 5 - 6 every game. Seth your right Harang's era would be over 4 with the Tribe. .. How about bringing up Urshella, Lindor, Ramirez and someone at first that catch and field a ball for 3 games. Maybe some decent baseball in the field.
Seth
April 29, 2014 - 1:05 PM EDT
Joe, agree on that, I cringed when I saw that they were having Aguilar play 3b a few times. Is Aguilar such an amazing defender at 1b that he needs no further work there? And how many part-time 3b do they need? I didn't mind them having Santana work a little at third, but giving him the full time job there was another story. Means Chisenhall is rusty when he plays there, and have seen Santana whiff completely on what should have been a double play ball ... and not sure how much the work at third has impacted Santana's slump. Of course, it's the right side of the infield that's been really bad, and those were the two guys I thought were pretty solid defenders, Kipnis and Swisher. Swisher's struggles have been pretty inexplicable. You watch the Indians play, and it looks like the opposing team has an extra infielder, compared to Cleveland.
Tony
April 29, 2014 - 12:17 PM EDT
Good point Seth.....the Braves have a superior defense.

Joe, it looks like Carrasco is in the pen for good with the Indians unless a bout of injuries force them to start him.
Canadian Joe
April 29, 2014 - 12:14 PM EDT
Some interesting moves coming, that's for sure. The Carrasco situation will be interesting to watch. Is he in the pen for some refining, is he staying there, or could he be part of a deal. Think he would still have some interest from other teams as a bit of a project.
Shy, your point of the Tribe being in last place in a pretty good division is right on point. Between the terrible hitting, especially with men on base, and the lack of good team defence is really a concern. The idea of making a lot of these players moving around, and playing more than one position (Swisher, Santana) could be coming back to bite them. I wish they would just put an evert day lineup out there and let them play. Instead of becoming solid at one position, they are becoming shaky in 2 or 3. Though I like Tito as the manager, I don't like some of the recent moves. And I don't want to hear about what they did last year after a bad start. That's history. This team seems to be unsettled right now. Some moves need to be made soon, otherwise we will be looking up at 4 teams, rather than 1.
Seth
April 29, 2014 - 12:05 PM EDT
To be fair, if Harang were pitching with Cleveland's defense behind him instead of Atlanta's, his ERA would probably be in the mid-4s
shy
April 29, 2014 - 11:53 AM EDT
It will be interesting to see what Carrasco can do in the bullpen, if they are able to continue to inculcate in him a more focused shut down one batter at a time batter mindset- glimpses of this were evidenced in the pen role last year- or if he will continue to think of himself as a misunderstood star-crossed starter needing a fresh start somewhere else. We'll see what happens. The Elliot Johnson rostered but not playing thing is strange. How do you pinch run Corey Kluber against the Giants when EJ is sitting there- unless Tito was saving him to pinch hit if the game went extra innings but how many pinch hit appearances or appearances of any kind has he made this season? In case no one noticed, the Indians are in last place in what has become a pretty decent division. Only one month in, but this is I believe an inflection point for Tribetown. I hope whoever they bring up- Bauer, Perez, Tomlin will ignite a spark.

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