Carlos Carrasco Utilizes Full Arsenal Against Tigers

On Wednesday night at Progressive Field, Carlos Carrasco the Cy Young candidate finally showed up. That’s not to take anything away from him so far in 2018. But, despite his 2-0 record, Carlos Carrasco just hadn’t looked like the Carlos Carrasco we expected to see in 2018.

If you recall, Carrasco’s first start of the 2018 season in Seattle was less than impressive. Over the course of 5.2 innings and 77 pitches he surrendered five runs on seven hits. Two of those hits managed to find their way into the cheap seats. While he managed to pick up the victory, the performance itself was anything but vintage Carlos Carrasco. Meanwhile, his second start, was much better. In a 2-0 victory over the Royals in bitter temperatures, struck out four and walked only one while giving up five hits. An elevated pitch count ultimately forced him from the game following the sixth inning.

Then Wednesday night happened.

Carlos Carrasco put on a pitching display that, if not for Corey Kluber two days earlier, would have been the talk of Cleveland and the baseball world. Carrasco threw a complete game three hitter striking out six and walking only one on the Indians way to a 5-1 victory. It was a truly masterful performance, complemented nicely by the offense, and what we had all expected to see from Carrasco heading into 2018. If he continues like this, there is no doubt he will be in Cy Young contention at season’s end.

But why was Carrasco so good?

Most pitchers typically survive with one to two dominant wipe out pitches. These are normally a two or four-seam fastball and then their choice of a curve, slider, or change-up, What makes Carrasco so special is he has all of the above. With four dominant pitches all capable of making hitters look foolish, he can be virtually unhittable when he is on his game.

Carrasco demonstrated his complete arsenal on Wednesday night and none of the Tigers had any idea what to do at the plate. This was especially true for his slider. James McCann, Jose Iglesias, and Mikie Mahtook all fell victim to its dominance and looked ridiculous flailing at them as they ran out of the strike zone.

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James McCann vs. Carrasco’s Slider
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Jose Iglesias vs. Carrasco’s Slider
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Mikie Mahtook vs. Carrasco’s Slider

Not to be a one hit wonder, Carrasco also threw in a healthy dose of change-ups. Jeimer Candelario and the aforementioned Jose Iglesias were left befuddled as Carrasco’s change-up all but disappeared on its way to the plate. In both at bats, the pitch clearly looks like a beach ball, starting in the meaty part of the zone before completely falling of a cliff.

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Jeimer Candelario vs. Carrasco’s Change-up
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Jose Iglesias vs. Carrasco’s Change-up

Last but not least, Niko Goodrum was completely confused at the plate in the fifth inning. Clearly sitting on off speed pitches, Carrasco blew him away with three straight four-seam fastballs. It was set up beautifully as well. The first two pitches painted the outside corner resulting in a called strike and foul tip. On the third and final pitch of the at-bat, with Goodrum expecting something off speed and possibly away, Carrasco instead painted the inside corner with a four-seam dart that left Goodrum frozen at the plate.

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Carrasco vs. Goodrum
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Niko Goodrum vs. Carrasco’s Four-seamer

This is what a truly unhittable pitcher looks like. Carrasco’s command of several different pitches, all at an elite level makes him a nightmare. It adds a layer of complexity to at bats that most hitters are unable to account for. Rather than sit fastball and react to a slider, they also have to be able to recognize a curve ball and be able to wait on or hold up on a change-up forged in the fires of Mount Doom. The probability of properly predicting the next pitch in a given sequence is nearly impossible. This is why Carlos Carrasco is so good. This is why he was a Cy Young candidate before even throwing a single pitch this season.

If this is the Carlos Carrasco we are going to see throughout the remainder of the season, random clunkers aside, this is setting up to be a truly magical season for the Tribe’s rotation. Between him, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger, this starting staff is a nightmare for opposing lineups. If they can avoid injury, it’s hard to think this couldn’t be the year.