Cleveland Indians: Players Ready for a Breakout August

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Jul 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher

Carlos Carrasco

(59) reacts beside catcher Yan Gomes (10) in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Carrasco

Last season marked the first time in his career that Carlos Carrasco lived up to the expectations set for him in the Cliff Lee trade. A former top prospect, it looked like he figured it out in the bullpen and then carried that success over to the starting rotation. After eliminating pitching from the windup, the right-hander saw his velocity and strikeouts increase and his walk rate drop. His performance was so good that the Cleveland Indians extended him for $22 million over the course of four years.

This season has been one of mixed results for Carrasco. Like nearly the entire pitching rotation, Carrasco has struck out batters at a high rate while posting a high ERA. And, like much of the starting rotation, this ERA comes despite a low FIP. Despite increasing his strikeouts even further this season, Carrasco has struggled to an ERA of 4.26; although, FIP, xFIP, and SIERA suggest that an ERA around 2.75 is much more realistic.

This major discrepancy between his peripherals and end results mostly stems from an obnoxiously high batting average on balls in play of .341. Poor defense has let more balls become hits than both his career average and the major league average. Another contributor to this lack of success at preventing runs has been his inability to strand base runners, as his left on base percent is below league average.

Since a pitcher’s statistics regress to the mean and what his peripherals suggest, Carrasco will almost certainly get better. It may be too late to post an ERA that is reflective of his work, but it is reasonable to expect him to start preventing runs at a much lower rate.

Another reason to believe in Carrasco improving in August is that he has been a fantastic pitcher in August. Across 51 innings of August work, Carrasco has pitched to a 2.28 ERA and 2.41 FIP. Even in his more-or-less abysmal 2013 season, he posted a FIP of 2.09 in August; a full two runs better than his seasonal rate.

Conclusion:

It may be too late for the Indians to make the Post Season, but the team still has a chance. These three players could lead a late-season resurgence for a team that has mostly disappointed after lofty expectations. Even if the team cannot make the playoffs, it is still reasonable to expect strong months from this trio of players. It is also worth noting that Brandon Moss nearly made this list, but I felt that these three players were slightly more consistent from year-to-year August statistics than Moss.

Next: Cleveland Indians Need to Clean House

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