I touched on Carlos Carrasco very briefly earlier this year, but the fact that I've started writing again, coupled with his strong performance over the past month certainly warrants another look.
Back then I wrote;
"Thankfully to say Carrasco can still reach the mid-90's but operates in the 91-93 range, and his fastball still has plenty of life. If the curve and changeup are still at least league average pitches, anyone with a good enough fastball can have some success, but his secondary pitches, namely his curveball will have to regain it's earlier form for him to ever realize his old potential."
Well, Carrasco is living at the high end of my fastball projections, averaging 93.0 and 93.1 mph on his four seam and two seam fastballs respectively. While his curve still hasn't regained it's old form, Carlos has developed some kind of nasty with his changeup. A pitch that for Carrasco just a year ago was more of an after-thought has become a devastating, fall-off-the-table offering as he's gotten hitters to swing and miss at the pitch nearly on nearly a quarter of his offering.s (23.4%)!
Want to know how bad the bottom of this pitch falls out? Just check out the charts. Jimminy cricket. He doesn't possess what I'd consider plus speed differential (8mph+), but with the way that pitch dies, he doesn't seem to need it. Carrasco is also clearly very confident with the pitch, offering it up 23% of the time.
Carrasco's stuff still doesn't project to a top-of-the-rotation kind of arm, but the development of his changeup, coupled with improved control suggest that he should be a strong long-term option in the middle of the Indians roster for the foreseeable future. Speaking of the control, his release points look really, really solid. If he can maintain that kind of consistency he should be able to maintain his improved control. The last thing you'd like to see would be for him to get on top of his curve a little better. He's getting solid depth on the pitch, but he's still a little too 10-4 with the pitch for my liking.
Looking at the FIP metrics, he's looking solid across the board. He's got slightly above average strikeout and walk rates and he's inducing 68.7% ground balls. That latter number is completely unsustainable, but he's always been ground ball prone and it appears that he's improved in that area. As stated above, neither the raw stuff, nor his rate stats are what you'd expect from an ace, but he's set up well in all areas of the game. His 2.18 ERA is the fluky result of a .240 BABIP, but the package is real. His xFIP of 3.67 gets a boost from that huge GB rate, but I see a guy who should be able to consistently post ERAs in the 4.00 range provided his stuff holds up.
Kudos to Carrasco and the Indians pitching staff for turning a negative (his diminished curve) into a positive (the plus change). Lemons to lemonade as they say.