Smoke Signals: Carrasco’s ‘Nastiest,’ Success In Tampa; Bruce’s First Start

CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – There is currently a poll being run by a major sports outlet that asks fans which pitch, relative to the man throwing it, is the “nastiest” in baseball.

That list includes Carlos Carrasco’s slider, which as of Friday night carries 323 votes, good enough for 1% of all results. If you were to give the Tampa Bay Rays a vote, they may choose either of Carrasco’s breaking balls, as the right-hander dominated Kevin Cash’s lineup with his slider and curveball.

Carrasco carried a perfect game into the 5th inning, and held a no-hitter through 6 2/3, largely because of the Rays’ inability to find Cookie’s breaking pitches.

The Rays are among the most aggressive offenses in baseball, swinging at the third-most pitches in the league, and the fourth-most pitches outside of the strike zone.

For that reason, Carrasco and Yan Gomes decided upon 44 breaking balls on 106 offerings – 31 curveballs and 13 sliders.

Of those 44 breaking balls, Carrasco picked up 11 of his 19 swinging strikes, 9 of them on the curve. Breaking balls also picked up 7 of Carrasco’s 13 called strikes.

“They’ve been swinging a lot,” Carrasco said. “They’ve been swinging at the first pitch a lot. That’s why we went right away with breaking balls.”

Curves and sliders accounted for 8 of the righty’s 10 strikeouts.

chart Smoke Signals: Carrascos Nastiest, Success In Tampa; Bruces First Start

Staying with an off-speed heavy approach, Manager Terry Francona made special note of his starter’s changeup.

Tropicana Paradise

This is not the first time Carrasco has come close to a no-hitter in St. Petersburg, finishing a strike shy of a no-no on July 1, 2015 at Tropicana Field.

Aside from flirting with no-hitters, Carrasco has had sustained success at Tampa Bay. Through four games entering Friday, the right-hander carries a .146/.193/.207 slash line against him through 24 1/3 innings.

The .146 batting average and .207 slugging are the lowest numbers against him at any stadium in which he has appeared four times, while the on-base percentage is second-lowest. The Rays’ .400 OPS and 1.48 ERA against him is the third-lowest in any park.

With Friday night’s win, Carrasco moves to 4-0 over as many starts inside the dome.

“I mean, he’s pretty good to begin,” Francona said. “For whatever reason, whether it’s the mound, the environment, man he goes out and pitches good.”

Bruce Watch

Michael Brantley’s indefinite absence precipitated the Indians’ move for Jay Bruce, and with an effective offense missing alongside the former, it woke up during the latter’s first start in his new uniform.

Bruce did not drive in any runs in his first start, but put up a solid 2-for-4 night, the only multi-hit game by an Indians hitter. He scored following his first single in the 5th.

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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