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500 Words or less…on great enigmas

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Carlos Carrasco has increasingly become one of the great divides among Indians fans, however, this type of debate is not a particularly new one. Indeed, what we have are two distinct sides, with two reasonable arguments as to what his fate will be as a big league pitcher.

On the one side we have the people who are obsessed with Carrasco as a talent, they see the fastball that sits at 95 MPH and above as well as a good slider and other solid secondary offerings. Enamored with upside which is wholly understandable. This sort of confidence and positivity is derived not only from his “stuff” but also from his prospect pedigree.

Indeed, it seems as if Carrasco has been viewed as an impact prospect for nearly half a decade, and it seems that way because it is true. Further, we become particularly attached to the idea of sunk cost. Carrasco was the centerpiece to the Cliff Lee deal, while the Tribe was also in love with Jason Knapp, Carrasco was the most important piece.

In many ways I understand, I remember that single month in 2011 when Carrasco was special, but at some point it is important that we do not become prisoner to a single moment in time. It is important that we do not become prisoner to a talent which despite a plethora of opportunities refuses to surface.

Lastly, I am of the volition that Carrasco has become extremely overvalued, probably stemming from the Indians recent vote of confidence for the middling right-hander.

This is for a few different reasons which have widely varying importance. The first issue for me is control, when scouts put a grade on a pitch they include control as an essential piece of the grade. Yet, as fans I believe that we rarely show an ability to consider it as an important aspect.

Most interesting is the ability to control the fastball in order to get ahead, so that secondary pitches can be used later in the count.

Danny Salazar‘s first pitch strike % in 2013: 67.3

Carlos Carrasco”s first pitch strike % career: 59.5%

Salazar was one of the best in the league, Carrasco below league average.

Carlos can only be as good as his control allows, and to this point in his career he simply has not been able to control the strike zone at a high enough level to have success in a big league rotation.

The second large concern, which I will hit in brevity plays off the first in many ways. Strikeout rate is one of the great litmus tests for starting pitchers, especially ones blessed with a blazing fastball and plus breaking ball. Unfortunately, even during his time in the minor leagues, Carrasco has not been very impressive.

Lastly, food for thought on Carrasco’s K/9. Consider that a good strikeout rate per nine is 7.50+. Now I will compare Carrasco a man with such “incredible stuff” to the Indians ultimate soft-tosser Josh Tomlin.

Josh Tomlin, big league innings 343.2, K/9 4.92.

Carlos Carrasco, big league innings 238.1, K/9 6.19.

The difference, simply isn’t large enough as a pitcher who oozes talent, has never shown the ability to harness it enough to deserve a rotation spot.

Author: Michael Hattery

Currently an Attorney. I have been fortunate enough to be published at Fangraphs, The Hardball Times, The Athletic Cleveland, and Marquette Sports Law Review. Follow @snarkyhatman

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