Carlos Carrasco has been considered the front runner for the fifth spot in the rotation since before spring training began, in large part due to the fact that he's out of minor-league options, which means he either goes on the 25-man roster, or he has to be placed on waivers. He had been pitching well enough to feel pretty good about having him in that spot, but this afternoon in Goodyear the Carrasco we watched struggle as a starter through in 2013 reared its ugly head, as the Indians were routed 13-3 by the Athletics.
Carrasco didn't start the game, Danny Salazar did, and he looked alright. He couldn't complete an inning without allowing a baserunner, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks in 3.2 innings, and those 3.2 innings were a hair less than he was supposed to go, but he did manage to record 3 strikeouts (including 2 against slugger Yoenis Cespedes) and he didn't allow any runs. It seems almost certain that he's going to be held out of the regular season until at least the 9th game (the first time a fifth different starter is needed), but that's not the end of the world.
Carrasco came in for the 5th, and it didn't take long for things to go south. A leadoff walk was followed by a double, the first of 3 hits he allowed that inning. In the 6th he allowed another 3 hits, and in the 7th he allowed another 3, before getting pulled after 2.2 innings (instead of the 5 he was scheduled for). All told he allowed 9 hits, plus 2 walks, which led to 8 runs, 3 of them considered unearned due to Lonnie Chisenhall's second error of the day (speaking of bad news).
Today I am reminded of why I didn't feel good about the fifth starter heading into camp, and while one bad game doesn't mean Carrasco can't be successful, the few good innings he's had in the last couple weeks don't mean he's figured things out. He'll get another couple appearances this spring, and I doubt we'll know whether or not he's going to be a part of the rotation until just before the team breaks camp (he could land in the bullpen instead, if the team doesn't want to place him on waivers).
The Indians are off tomorrow, which means we don't get a chance to wash the taste of this one out of our mouths for a couple days. Hopefully your NCAA bracket gives you comfort in the meantime.