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Does Carlos Carrasco Have The Stuff To Close? Zuppe Twitter Mailbag

By T.J. ZUPPE, 92.3 The Fan Indians Beat Reporter
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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

TJ_300x300 T.J. Zuppe
T.J. Zuppe began his broadcasting career in 2008 and has covered major...
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(92.3 The Fan) - As the Cleveland Indians wrap up their weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays, and with the Tribe’s bullpen in flux, we throw open the twitter mailbag and dive into a few of your questions from this weekend:

Q: @CommonCLEFan — Does Carlos Carrasco have the stuff to close?

The pure stuff? Absolutely. But that’s not the only way pitchers are judged.

Carrasco has the stuff to be a tremendous starter. He has all the physical tools, and a big strong build capable of logging a ton of innings. But mentally? That continues to be his biggest hurdle.

Carrasco appeared almost relieved to be taken out of the rotation but his sample size as a reliever is too small to truly know if he is better in shorter bursts (4.1 IP, 0 R, .143 BAA as reliever this season). In addition, closers must have an element of amnesia to successfully put struggles in the rear view mirror. How would Carrasco react to a poor relief outing? Not all pitchers thrive in that role – and often – you don’t know until they are thrust into the fire.

It has never been about stuff – and it never will be for Carrasco. But he will have to prove a lot more in a relief role before regularly being counted on in high-leverage situations.

Q: @Dcham_15 — Thoughts on making Danny Salazar the closer?

I certainly understand your thought process; considering Salazar’s BAA (batting average against) jumps from .218 the first time through the order to .333 in the second plate appearance and .382 in the third. However, the short-term and long-term organizational goal for Salazar is to become a consistent, successful big league starter.

There is never any guarantee that a starter could shift to a relief role and find immediate success. Furthermore, contributions as a starter will always be worth more than as a set-up man or closer.

Personally, I’m not ready to abandon hope that Salazar can be a dominating starter. He’s posted a 3.44 ERA in his last three outings and appears to be making some strides in a few areas. That upward trend will need to continue.

With several others ready to handle high-leverage bullpen innings in John Axford’s place, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw among them, let’s give Salazar a little more time to build on his recent success.

Q: @Bigdaddysausage — When do you expect Trevor Bauer to be promoted?

Keep in mind, the Indians may be balancing the number of days the righty spends in the big leagues this season in hope of avoiding a Super Two status down the road (read all about Super Two here). By limiting Bauer’s service time, the Tribe could keep the arbitration clock from ticking, and potentially keep his cost lower.

I know that may sound ridiculous, keeping a team from using it’s best 25 players, but it’s a common practice in an imperfect system.

With Bauer and Josh Tomlin essentially neck and neck in Triple-A production, either was deserving of the call – and service time could have played a factor in the Tomlin choice.

On the other hand, when the organization does finally make the call for Bauer, they would prefer it to be a permanent promotion. To make that happen, Bauer must prove that his early success is no fluke, and must become a dependable starter with no reservations or concerns. If he continues down the path he is on (4-0, 1.12 ERA in six Triple-A starts), that time could be very soon. And frankly, the time is approaching when keeping him in the minors would be foolish, no matter what the arbitration clock says.

Q: @weezyfuhreezy — Did the Indians rotation finally turn a corner after a very solid two times through?

With Josh Tomlin joining the starting five, it does at least seem as if the Tribe’s rotation has a bit more of a known element to it.

When Salazar and Carrasco were in the mix, it became harder to know what to expect in at the back-end, but a healthy Tomlin is more of a known commodity, which certainly helps. I think there is still plenty of room to grow – and questions to answer in the starting five. That said, Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber seem to have settled into a nice groove at the top of the rotation, but the staff is still susceptible to a hiccup or two (Zach McAllister: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R on Saturday vs. TB).

The biggest unanswered question: will the offense ever consistently support them?

Q: @KrisRoxxFoxx — Will the team make a trade for a right-handed bat?

With the season still so young, it is still way too difficult to project who will be available at the July 31 trade deadline – or know if the Indians will even be buyers this summer.

Free agent Kendrys Morales’ name gets brought up by fans as a possible solution, but don’t expect any suitors to come calling until after the June draft, and even then, a bidding war could break out once the draft compensation drops from his potential signing.

The Indians may have some help down on the farm in right-handed slugger Jesus Aguilar. The corner infielder is hitting .315 with Triple-A Columbus with seven homers, and the organization has been impressed by his winter ball appearance and early season success with the Clippers. However, he is hitting .216 in his last 10 games.

In reality, the Tribe cannot be successful unless Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana start consistently hitting like the back of their baseball card says they can. There is no one offensive savior available to cure what ails the Cleveland bats. The catalyst for successful offense comes down to the Tribe’s best players hitting their way out of their funks.

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