My pre-season love for Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco was no secret as I tabbed him to be “This Year’s Corey Kluber,” but it just has not been happening for the 28-year old. Despite elite strikeout (9.85 K/9) and walk (1.93 BB/9) rates that were the big factors toward his great SIERA (2.89) and xFIP (2.85) entering Wednesday’s action, Carrasco was the owner of a mediocre 4.16 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. So he was hardly Kluber-izing the baseball nation and there is one key reason with a couple of causal secondary reasons that was preventing him from the big breakout.
The main reason that he’s been underwhelming and not meeting expectations this year lies in his BABIP (batting average on balls in play — measures the rate at which balls in the field of play go for hits), which sat at .336 coming into Wednesday. Then there are two reasons why his BABIP has been so high. The first reason being that his 32.8% hard hit rate entering the day was the 12th highest in baseball and much higher than his mark of 24.6% last season, which would suggest that he has been struggling with hitting his location a lot and the batters just mash it hard somewhere. The second reason why his BABIP has been so high is that the defense behind him rates very poorly as the 27th ranked team in both DEF and UZR. With a poor defense behind him, a pitcher is more likely to have a higher BABIP as balls get by defenders with lack of range, hits get by defenders because of the failure/misuse of a shift, or some combination of both. And this can be seen in more detail in “Sometimes A Pitcher Is Only As Good As His Defense.”
On Wednesday though, Carrasco finally had his big breakout game of the season where he came within one strike of completing a no-hitter before Joey Butler roped a single over the second baseman’s head that drove in a run for the Rays. Carrasco ended up being removed from the game after the hit since his pitch count was pretty high, but he finished the game with a spectacular line of 8.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 13 K with the W.
I think that Carrasco learned in order to avoid all the hits and high BABIP, he had to take things into his own hands and that the best way to combat having a bad defense is to just record a strikeout for half the outs to limit the defense’s opportunity to mess things up. And that’s what he did with exactly half of the 26 outs he got being of the strikeout variety. The 1-hit performance brought Carrasco’s BABIP down from .336 to .323. Carrasco figures to continue to improve his overall numbers over the second half of the season and be a fantasy asset, but it may not be to the extent that we hope for if he keeps on getting some bad defense behind him. Carrasco is now 10-6 with a 3.88 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 110 K/21 BB in 97.1 IP.
Let’s take a look at the rest of Wednesday’s notables: