Don’t You Dare Overlook Carrasco

Last week, the Mets acquired Francisco Lindor in a trade that has the potential to go down as one for the ages. The Mets acquired arguably the best infielder of the past half-decade. As great as that part of the acquisition was, Lindor came with his longtime teammate, Carlos Carrasco.

The name Carrasco shouldn’t be new to us. His name was often mentioned as one of the tough pitchers in the Indians rotation. Kluber, Clevinger and Bieber were the names that thrown around with Carrasco. While most fans know that they are all were very good pitchers, a deep dive into the data shows that Carrasco is a fantastic pickup.

The Venezuelan born Carrasco has been very quietly one of the best pitchers since 2014. His stats over the last seven seasons are some of the finest in the MLB.

Simply put, Carrasco is a guy who can give his team 30+ starts and average around 6 innings when healthy. However, there is a better way to look at his greatness.

Since 2014, a total of 72 different starting pitchers have gotten at least one vote for the Cy Young award. Of these, only 27 have gotten votes in more than one season. It is fair to say that these are the 27 pitchers we can reasonably call the top starters of the game as they have had multiple great seasons.  So where does Carrasco stand against these pitchers. The answer is… right in the middle:

Here is the full list-

Understand what why this is critical. There are the truly elite pitchers like Scherzer, deGrom, Sale, Kershaw, Greinke, Verlander and Kluber. They have been consistently great for enough years that the only question is if they are first ballot hall of famers or not. However, once you go a level down, you will find Carrasco. He is in the group of great pitchers like Nola, Price, Cole, Lynn, Strasburg, Arrieta, Hendricks, Keuchel and Bumgarner. Carrasco has shown more consistency than pitchers like Ryu, Cueto, Severino and even Bauer. The amazing part about Carrasco is that of all the players listed here, only he and Hendricks have never made an all-star team. In other words, Carrasco is an under the radar stud.

Carrasco is the type of pitcher who would get big bucks if he were a free agent. Coming off of a strong 2020 campaign in which he put up a 2.91 ERA in 68 innings, teams would be all over him. Being that he is going into his age 34 season, he would likely have gotten about 3-4 years and about $20 million per season. However, he is on a team friendly contract. Carrasco will earn $12 million both this and next season. For 2023, he has a $14 million option with a $3 million buyout.

This means that the Mets current payroll is projected to be around $180 million. If they want to, they can still make another splashy move.

Probably the most impressive part about Carrasco’s resume is that he is a cancer survivor. He struggled in the first two months of the 2019 season. In early June, it became clear why. Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia. Not only was his career in jeopardy, but so was his life. Carrasco made a miraculous recovery and was able to pitch in September. While his production was down, it was amazing to see that he could even throw a baseball. It is for that reason that he was the clear winner of the 2019 AL comeback player of the year and Roberto Clemente awards.

Carrasco was honored at the 2019 All Star Game in Cleveland

The 2020 season proved that Carrasco can pitch at the same dominant level he had in the past. However, it is reasonable to wonder how he will age. Even great pitchers typically decline in their mid-30’s. The Mets are hopeful. If he can be anything like his old self, the Mets will be more than happy.

(David Weiss is a lifelong Mets fan. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and runs the Facebook page Jewish Mets Fans.)

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