Carrasco Feels Good After Rehab Start In Akron

The rotation in Cleveland has been through its troubles and tribulations over the last few weeks. The Indians have seen the promotion of Mike Clevinger in lieu of a struggling Cody Anderson. They have also seen Trevor Bauer do Bauer-like things in the rotation as well, which can be either good or bad depending on who you’re talking to.

While the Indians have worked their way into first place in the AL Central, and deservedly so, they’re close to getting a huge boost back in their rotation as their number two guy, Carlos Carrasco, inches his way back to Cleveland.

Carrasco suffered a left hamstring injury on Sunday, April 24, during the series in Detroit. He’s spent the last few weeks on the disabled list trying to work his way back to Cleveland. Since then, he’s participated in two simulated games with the Low-A Lake County Captains. On Saturday, he was able to make his first rehab appearance with the Double-A RubberDucks.

The goal for Carrasco was to pitch either four innings, or make 60 pitches, whichever came first. Secondly, it was key for him to be able to test how his hamstring felt coming off the mound. As his initial injury came when he was covering first base, this was a scary area to watch in the first inning. Knowing was how he injured himself in the first place, fans had to hold their breath the first time he moved off the mound just to make sure everything would be okay.

Carrasco, on the other hand, wasn’t even thinking of this during the game.

“I just saw the groundball to the first, and I just went over there and ran as hard as I can,” said Carrasco after the game. “I wanted to test my hammy and see how it would do. It feels great.”

In the first inning, Carrasco wasn’t charged with the first run of the game, but he had to work through some base runners. He escaped the inning with only the one run and had a strikeout. He later on blew through the second inning, but ran into some troubles in the third and fourth.

He served up a home run to lead off the fourth, and the followed that with a single and a walk. These base runners were all part of Carrasco’s plan though as he wanted to work through a situation where he felt pressured.

He then, of course, followed up the next three batters with three strikeouts.

“Just trying to put pressure on myself and just trying to be in the game, and that’s what I did. [Tony] Arnold asked me, “What was that?” I just did it on purpose to feel ready for the game, and that’s what I did, and I got three strikeouts,” Carrasco said.

Carrasco line for the night went like this:

Four innings, seven hits, two runs, one earned, two walks, five strikeouts, one home run, on 53 pitches – 37 strikes and 16 balls.

All of his pitches looked fantastic. His slider had movement and his fastball velocity was sitting around 95 to 96 mph. For Carrasco, it was just all about getting on the mound though and getting through the game. He feels like he could make his next start be a big league start, but the Indians may have other plans for him.

“That’s exactly what you want to see in an outing like this,” manager Dave Wallace commented about Carrasco. “For him, it’s just getting back, it’s not as much getting guys out at this level. It’s getting off the mound and testing that hammy and making sure it’s alright. All good today.”

Riding up to Saturday night, Carrasco had a long process in which he had to follow, much of that being three weeks in which he wasn’t able to do anything at all. Initially it was reported that he would miss four to six weeks of game time before making it back to Cleveland, and with how well Cleveland has been playing lately, they have no reason to rush Carrasco.

As of right now, it’s unclear when Carrasco will be rejoining the Indians. The rotation in Cleveland currently consists of Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, Bauer, and Clevinger. One of them will have to either be bumped from the ‘pen or back down to Triple-A. How Bauer and Clevinger perform in their next starts will probably show which man gets to stay in the rotation.

Carrasco is a huge part of this team and he cannot be rushed back from the disabled list. If he comes back too early and re-injures his hammy, then they will be in more trouble than if they waited until he’s completely ready. While the rotation is holding itself together now, it’s not a forever solution without Carrasco. The Indians need him at 100% if they plan on contending throughout the whole season.

“I feel ready,” said Carrasco, “and I’m ready to go.”

Photo: Paul Sancya/AP Photo

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