Carlos Carrasco & Ezequiel Carrera: Deep League Wire

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Carlos Carrasco | SP/RP CLE | CBS 2% Owned

I have a problem. I need help. I simply cannot quit Carlos Carrasco. After being banished to the bullpen following four straight poor starts to open the season, my favorite sleeper may be about to rejoin the Indians rotation. Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister were demoted to Triple-A and Josh Tomlin to the bullpen, leaving the Tribe without a whole lot of options. Surely Carrasco deserved more than four starts to prove whether or not he belonged in the rotation, right?

As a starter this year, Carrasco flashed intriguing skills, striking out one more batter than innings pitched and inducing tons of grounders. He posted a 3.69 xFIP, but a ridiculous .355 BABIP and even crazier 52.8% LOB% caused his ERA to balloon to nearly 7.00, giving the organization and media the opportunity to claim without question that he was better suited for the bullpen. And given what he’s done in relief — a 1.66 ERA and 34/8 K/BB ratio — maybe they were right. Of course, no one is going to mention the .238 BABIP and 87% LOB% this time, because those metrics suggest his great success in relief has been driven by a heaping of luck.

What we know is this — his skills have actually been better with runners on base, as he has posted sub-3.00 xFIP marks with men on and in scoring position, versus a 3.48 mark with the bases empty. But his BABIP has skyrocketed in those situations. It’s quite the mystery, because if you proclaim his pitches lose movement or velocity pitching from the stretch resulting in the inflated BABIP, then how come his strikeout percentage jumps? The bottom line is that he’s got a killer slider and fantastic curve ball, throws mid-90s heat and induces tons of grounders. It’s the profile of a pitcher I will continually bet on until retirement.

Ezequiel Carrera | OF DET | 1% Owned

In the wake of the Austin Jackson trade, the Tigers called up Carrera to split time with Rajai Davis, at the very least. Let’s talk about Davis first, since he’s Carrera’s primary competition. Davis is a right-hander who can’t hit righties. He currently sports a measly .287 wOBA against them, compared to a .426 mark against southpaws, and for his career, his wOBA versus right-handers stands at exactly the same number as it sits this year. So this ain’t no fluke – Davis’ offensive contributions come solely against lefties. Defensively, his UZR/150 numbers suggest he’s just average in center field as well.

Enter Carrera. The two have very similar offensive profiles — poor walk rates, slightly above average strikeout rates, limited power, and tons of speed. But Carrera is a lefty, making him a natural platoon partner for Davis. Of course, Carrera himself hasn’t done much against right-handers either, having posted just a .292 wOBA during his short time in the Majors. But spectacular catches like this one help make the case that he could be better defensively than Davis is. He’s also younger and showed some nice improvement in the plate patience department at Triple-A, having walked 11% of the time. It provides hope that he could muster something better than his current 6.1% career walk rate, which would make it that much easier for him to contribute more offensively against right-handers.

If Carrera does end up winning out on the better side of a platoon, he could basically do for fantasy teams what Davis had been counted on for. He has stolen exactly 43 bases in each of the last two seasons, with a couple of homers each year to boot. And you’d kill for some more team speed, right?

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Ron Good
Ron Good

Mike, where did your lead “Welcome back my friends” come from? I know, just testing you. Enjoy your stuff. Say hello to my friend Eno.
Ron Good
Oklahoma City