CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Carlos Carrasco has not yet had his chance to breakout on the big stage, because of injury or otherwise. On Sunday, he will get his chance at in the same city he broke out to his manager.
A year removed from Tommy John surgery in 2014, Carrasco allowed at least four earned runs in each of his first four starts of the year, prompting a move to the bullpen. The righty made 26 appearances as a reliever that season.
On August 10th, 2014, Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway and then Bench Coach Kevin Cash told Manager Terry Francona that Carrasco was ready to start again. He has not come out of the bullpen since.
“I just thought we were too far into the year. I was hesitant,” Francona said Friday. “I wished I could sit here and say, oh, yeah, I saw it. I didn’t. But those guys talked me into it.”
Carrasco went on to toss five two-hit innings at Yankee Stadium, earning the first of 48 winning decisions since, and has gone on to become one of the top pitchers in the American League.
Francona has long cited Carrasco’s stint in the bullpen as one of the key ingredients for his step forward into the game’s elite.
“I think his time in the bullpen was the best thing for him ever. He got a chance to watch the game,” the skipper said. “He got in attack mode, where I think when he was starting, when he was younger, he’d worry the four days in between. When he was in the bullpen, he didn’t know when he was going to pitch, but when he did pitch, he’d come out and just attack. And he took that mentality with him as a starter.”
It just so happens that the 30-year old has had sustained success at the same venue in which he jumpstarted his career. Over four starts at new Yankee Stadium, Carrasco has allowed just four runs and 17 hits, good enough for a 1.40 ERA. Hitters against Carrasco are slashing .187/.242/.262 at the park.
Carrasco has just been better on the road, period. In his career, he has allowed a .227/.279/.357 slash in 88 games away from Progressive Field, as opposed to .269/.319/.440 in 87 home apperances. In 2017, Carrasco is 11-2 on the road with a .210/.266/.336 slash in 17 starts.
Why does Carrasco have so much success on the road?
“You know what? I try to ask myself that question every day,” he said. “It’s still the same baseball. I have success on the road, so I don’t know what I can say about that, but I just want to take advantage about that. And tomorrow I’m going to pitch here in New York. Then a couple years ago, I’d been pitching here, my last couple starts, they’ve been good.”
No matter how at home the right-hander feels at Yankee Stadium, all is likely to become moot outside of how comfortable he is in his first career playoff game.
“It’s the postseason. It’s going to be a lot of people tomorrow,” he said Saturday. “This is going to be my first time, but I always say, it’s the same baseball.”