Carlos Carrasco went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Here’s how the fallout affects the Cleveland Indians.
Carlos Carrasco injured his hamstring covering first base in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Tigers. While the sweep was a nice touch to a great Cleveland sports weekend, Carrasco’s MRI revealed enough damage to warrant a 4-6 week stint on the disabled list. What does this all mean for the Tribe going forward?
1. Get ready for Trevor Bauer
Bauer, who was excellent out of the pen replacing Carrasco on Sunday, is likely to take over in the rotation for Cookie. If that gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. Bauer sported an ERA just under 6.00 last season in the second half and struggled to even get past the first few innings before ultimately being replaced by Josh Tomlin on the hill. Now, with few real options, Bauer is again thrust back into the starting rotation.
Bauer’s time in the bullpen was short lived, but perhaps could have the same effect that it did on Carlos Carrasco a few seasons ago. He has a similar profile as a hard throwing righty that strikes out a lot of hitter, but his control has been shaky during his big league career. He’s been decent as a reliever this season, but exactly half of his appearances have resulted in two earned runs given up. Will the Indians get the Trevor Bauer that has a 3.76 ERA before the break last year or the 5.73 ERA after? Can he do better than the less than five innings pitched he averaged in August and September? I think so, but Bauer has to show that he can listen to Mickey Calloway and go from a promising 25 year old arm to an impact major league starter.
2. The pitching depth after Bauer is not good
After Trevor Bauer, it’s likely that the Indians would see T.J. House in the rotation. After a dismal 2015 where injuries and ineffectiveness cost the Tribe dearly early on, House is not exactly setting AAA on fire in Columbus with a 4.80 ERA. After House, the best bet as a fill in starter might be Zach McAllister, who hasn’t been effective as a full time starter for some time. Maybe Will Roberts, who leads the Clippers in ERA with a 2.08 mark over a team high 17.1 innings, could be an emergency guy later in the year, but there’s a reason you haven’t heard the name much before. He’s not even on the 40 man roster.
Maybe it’s Mike Clevinger or Ryan Merritt, but neither player seems ready for a role with the big league club. The best bet is that, should the need arise, the Indians will trade for someone’s 5th starter or extra arm for spare parts just to get by. Either way, Bauer and House are the only real options the Tribe has in the worst case scenarios.
3. This is why the Tribe didn’t trade a starter
Look back at the names mentioned as possible fills ins if there is another injury to a Tribe starter. Doesn’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence, right? The Indians rotation is as good as any in the major leagues, but the minor league depth isn’t ready yet. The best pitching prospects in the entire farm system are at least two years away, if not longer. Brady Aiken still isn’t completely recovered from Tommy John and Justus Sheffield is incredibly young, even with all of the promise he has shown thus far in 2016.
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Imagine if we had traded Carrasco for a bat, like Jorge Soler or Kyle Schwarber, two names this site discussed in the offseason. Now make the injured hamstring Danny Salazar‘s. Would you feel good about a Kluber – Tomlin – Anderson – Bauer – House rotation? They’d be one Tomlin arm injury away from being one of the worst groups in baseball, even with Kluber as an ace. What makes the Tribe rotation so special is that Kluber and Carrasco are a virtual 1a and 1b at the top and Danny Salazar has actually been everything the Indians front office hoped he could be this season. Their impact at the top of the rotation allowed guys like Tomlin and Anderson to stay settled and focused on their jobs. Now elevate those guys a notch or two in the pecking order and who knows what happens.
If the Indians can continue to hit the way they have, 4-6 weeks sans Carrasco might not be so bad. Given how the team typically performs at the onset of the season, the offense NEEDS to stay hot. Michael Brantley‘s return will certainly help and really couldn’t come at a better time. But make no mistake, losing Carrasco for an extended period of time is going to hurt the Tribe’s chances for success. 6 weeks can’t pass soon enough.