Carlos Carrasco: Top 20 Starting Pitcher in 2016

The Cleveland Indians have young pitchers with a lot of promise, one of them being Carlos Carrasco. He has the talent to be elite for years to come.

The Cleveland Indians have a lot of the pieces it takes to make a good baseball team. The lineup is good, not great. The bullpen is solid, but it’s the starting rotation that has a lot of upside. In 2014, Corey Kluber had an amazing season. The folowing year, Carlos Carrasco tried to follow in his footsteps. While he wasn’t as successful, he will improve on that in 2016.

Let’s go back to Kluber for a second. He showed very little in his first two seasons. In his first 36 starts, he had a 4.24 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with a 13-10 record. Then, 2014 happened. He finished 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA, 1.095 WHIP and 269 strikeouts on his way to winning the American League Cy Young award. The following year went downhill, 9-16, 3.49 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He had some good starts, but 2015 was an overall disappointment. 

The reason I bring up Kluber is because Carlos Carrasco has a similar path to success. From 2009 to 2011, he made 33 starts and finished with a 4.93 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. He then underwent Tommy John surgery in September and missed all of the 2012 season.

He made his first start on April 9 and allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. He was then optioned to Triple-A Columbus. He spent 2014 bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen. He was better in a reliever role, 2.30 ERA compared to a 2.67 ERA as a starter.

The 2015 season began on a high note, pitching six and one-third shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. Things went south after that, owning a 4.98 ERA on May 17. He was able to shave more than a run off of his ERA and finished the season with a 14-12 record, 3.63 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 216 strikeouts.

His best start of the season came on July 1 against the Tampa Bay Rays, taking a no-hitter into the ninth before allowing a two-out single. He struck out 13 batters in the game.

Carlos Carrasco was a 12th-round pick in ESPN leagues as the 29th starting pitcher taken. He finished the season as the 15th-best pitcher on the Player Rater, mostly because of his high strikeout total. He enters the 2016 season as the No. 2 pitcher in the Indians rotation. He hasn’t had the breakout season Kluber had, but it’s coming and 2016 could be the year.

Carlos Carrasco needs better control to become an elite starting pitcher. He had a 29.8 FB and 13.2 HR/FB percentages in 2015. It doesn’t help that Progressive Field is one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the league, however Carrasco has the skill to tame those numbers.

Starting pitching is the deepest its been in years. You can even find solid options on the waiver wire. I think Carlos Carrasco showed enough in 2015 that warrants a rise in the rankings. He can rack up 15 wins and over 200 strikeouts. The AL Central has two good-hitting teams and two bad-hitting teams. If Carrasco can take advantage of the poor matchups and manage the game agaisnt the good ones, he can easily finish as a top-20 pitcher.

Projections: 13-9, 3.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 205 strikeouts

Draft: Round 10