Note: This was written before it was found out that Carmona wasn’t, well, Carmona…so I left it as it. We all know that he’s now Roberto Hernandez, or was Roberto Hernandez and is again?
Happy New Year!!!!
The battle for the #5 starter on the Indians team of the decade came down to two players. The first player had one exquisite season that was so good, many felt he would be one of the best pitchers in baseball for years to come. The other pitcher never had a season with an E.R.A. below 4.53, but was as consistent as you could be as a bottom-end starter.
The first pitcher, Fausto Carmona, was brilliant in 2007, then dropped off the map as a starter in 2008 and 2009. The second pitcher, Paul Byrd, was never lights out, but always managed to win double figures, and keep the teams he pitched for into games. Unfortunately for Byrd, many of his wins were less about his pitching, and more about his offense and defense. At the end of the day, Fausto Carmona’s brilliance and near Cy Young 2007 season carry him in this battle.
The All-Aught Indians #5 starter is Fausto Carmona.
Carmona’s first season with the Tribe seemed to be typical Tribe management with their pitching staff in the 2000’s. Carmona’s first appearance was as a starter in 2006, replacing an injured CC Sabathia. He won that start, but struggled in his next two starts before getting sent back down to Buffalo with the return of Sabathia.
Carmona returned in late May as a relief pitcher, and in over 28 1/3 innings, only gave up four runs, three of them earned. That’s when the Indians made a brilliant decision: they made him their closer, and poof, it was all gone.
Over the next four games, he gave up 11 runs, losing all four games, blowing three saves during that stretch. He ended that season with a 1-10 record, a 5.42 ERA, and a shot psyche. Carmona had gone from the 2003 minor league pitcher of the year, to limbo.
So…what did the Indians do? Well, they made him a starter again, of course.
Then came 2007.
The numbers? Carmona went 19-8, with a 3.06 ERA. In 215 innings, Carmona struck out 137, and walked only 61 batters. He beat Johan Santana twice in a month and had a streak of 22 shutout innings.
After the break, Carmona went 9-4 with a league leading 2.26 ERA. Torii Hunter commented that Carmona’s pitches weren’t “normal,” and “He’s not even human. It was so scary, I thought I was hung over. That dude is filthy,” Hunter said. “We’ve been struggling, but even if we had been playing good, we wouldn’t have beaten him. If you’ve never played the game, listen to me, I’m a hitter. Right-handers have no chance unless they get lucky and get a hit on a broken bat.”
That’s not a bad endorsement, but as good as Carmona was during the regular season, he saved his best performance for the Yankees in the ALDS.
The Indians and the Yankees were swarmed with midges during that series, and Carmona found himself on the mound. Opposite of him was the seemingly unbeatable Joba Chamberlain for the Yankees. Unfortunately for Chamberlain, he couldn’t focus with the midges flying around him, on him, and up his nose. The Tribe tied the game when they were down 1-0 with Chamberlain on the mound, then won the game in extra innings. What did Carmona do? He went nine innings, giving up three hits and a run, while striking out five, and walking only two batters. Oh yeah, and he defeated the evil midges.
Now we could sit here and chat about Carmona’s struggles against Boston, and how he went downhill in 2008 and 2009, but for one big season, Carmona wasn’t just good, but he may have been the best pitcher in baseball. Overall, Carmona went 33-37, with a 4.69 ERA during the decade, which lets you know just how good that 2007 season was. It overcame a 1-10 season, and an 11-game losing streak, as well as a season in which is ERA was nearly 7.
It’s good to know that Carmona has righted the ship somewhat, in the second decade of the century. Let’s hope that continues.