Why Carlos Carrasco Should Emerge As An Elite Starter In 2016

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It may be a bit of a surprise to see the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco ranked so highly on our 2016 rankings (click here to view). It’s certainly not like his 2015 numbers justify the ranking:

183.2 IP
14 Wins
3.63 ERA
1.07 WHIP
216 Strikeouts (10.58 K/9)
43 Walks (2.11 BB/9)
51.2% Groundball Rate
.304 BABIP

Or maybe they actually do, outside of the ERA (which was more based on poor luck than his skill set), and the perception of the pitcher clouds many people’s judgment. He showed all three skills that we look for from a pitcher, and did them all at elite clips. Can he maintain it? Can he take the next step? Let’s take a look.

His strikeout rate came courtesy of a 14.0% SwStr% and 40.0% O-Swing%, so clearly he had opposing hitters baffled. Those numbers alone would grab our attention, but realizing he did it with a five-pitch mix makes it that much better. It shows he has ample weapons to work with, and good ones at that given the Whiff%:

  • Fourseam – 6.50%
  • Sinker – 10.79%
  • Change up – 19.12%
  • Slider – 25.69%
  • Curveball – 28.31%

Obviously the final two pitches are his put away pitches, and they are dominant. He threw a variation of a fastball just 55.6% of the time, consistently using his slider (22.3%), curveball (7.9%) and change up (14.1%).

With the swing and miss ability, as well as the pitch mix, there’s little reason to think that he won’t remain an elite strikeout artist.

He posted a 1.95 BB/9 in 2014 and was at 2.7 in over 400 innings at Triple-A. With opponents being so willing to chase outside the strike zone, there’s reason to believe that walks are not going to be an issue. Could his second half 2.39 mark be closer to the truth? Maybe, but that’s also a number no one is going to complain about.

Like his control, he was at 52.8% in 2014 so the trend has been there. Obviously he doesn’t utilize his sinker as much (15.08%), which makes you wonder if there could be a regression, but he clearly is getting opponents to drive other pitches into the ground. Of course this is only an issue when someone actually makes contact against him…

Interestingly, Carrasco struggled at home last season:

  • Home – 5.03
  • Road – 2.49

While he did have a greater line drive rate at home (21.2%), it doesn’t justify his .356 BABIP or 67.3% strand rate. There’s obviously reason to believe that an improvement is coming, and while he may not quite post his road ERA, a sub-3.00 mark should be there.

Exactly what is there not to like? He’s proven that he brings strikeouts, control and groundballs to the table, all of which could’ve brought elite numbers a year ago. A little bit better luck (overall he posted a .304 BABIP and 71.8% strand rate) and seeing him ranked so highly wouldn’t be questioned. With all of the numbers believable, he should reach that level in 2016.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball

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  1. jrob23 says:

    Totally agree. He can get better too. Great article

  2. Big Dog says:

    Carrasco trade question

    5×5 11 team mixed keeper league $310 cap

    Would you trade Schwarber ($6) for Carracso ($11)?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      How long can you keep them for at that price? For this season I’d lean Carrasco, though barely and it really depends on your team construction

      • Big Dog says:

        Keeper salaries escalate $5 each year.

        • Sam says:

          Not a Schwarber fan but I think you can get a solid pitcher for $11 (for instance, I believe that Wacha would have been in or around that $11 price range last year and offered less Ks but better ratios) but not a bat equivalent to Schwarber (at least his upside) for $6 (sure some diamonds in the rough were found on the cheap but guys you price out at $6 presently, I’m thinkin Piscotty for instance, don’t offer Schwarber’s immense upside). Plus the hype around Schwarber will make him a valuable trade chip.

          Going forwards, I can’t see Carrasco being worth much over the $16 he’ll jump to, especially when you compare what the $16 can get you.

          All of this is qualified by being based upon $260 auction budget.. but still prefer Schwarber despite what comparable pitchers (to Carrasco) may go for.

  3. Big Dog says:

    i’d put him #1 in AL only

  4. Rusty says:

    Carrasco is much better value than Schwarber. Think about it. The Cubs signed Fowler. That will cut into Schwarber’s ABs. Soler needs his time in the field. That will cut Schwarber’s ABs. Kris Bryant is going to be used in the OF a bit. That will cut into Schwarber’s ABs. And don’t say he’ll be catching a lot. That’s not going to happen. Maybe 10 starts at catcher tops. Finally, Schwarber is completely overrated. Let’s someone else overvalue him and overpay for his HUGE whiff rate. The guy’s a human air conditioner. Carrasco is on the verge of being a SP1 and do is his teammate, Danny Salazar.

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