Indians righty Carlos Carrasco, out since late May after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, is set to appear in a rehab game for AA-Akron on Monday, per The Athletic’s Zack Meisel. Carrasco will be limited to just an inning in preparation for a bullpen role upon return, per Meisel. The rotation lynchpin, who last appeared regularly in a relief role back in 2014, was “excited” about the imminent transition, according to manager Terry Francona, who offered little window into the timetable for the 32-year-old’s return.
It’s obviously an encouraging development for the surging Tribe, who’ve been stripped near to the bone of the AL’s most intimidating starting corps entering the season. Righties Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar remain on the mend, while righty Mike Clevinger, who’s now pacing the AL is park-adjusted FIP and xFIP, missed much of the season’s first half. Ascendant righties – the team seems to have a near-limitless supply – Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac have kept things afloat, though the latter’s ERA far outstrips his less-encouraging peripherals.
The bullpen has been stellar throughout, though the team’s ERA/FIP gap is the widest in the majors, and the back end, apart from a dominant Brad Hand, is still absent the wipeout bat-missers that populate so many of the games best ’pens these days. A healthy Carrasco, who’s set down hitters at the highest rate of his career thus far, would seem to be the perfect antidote.
Before the illness, Carrasco’s 2019 season was in some ways his best: in addition to the aforementioned strikeout rate, the 32-year-old had also posted his lowest career walk rate (1.52 per nine) and a swinging strike rate that checked in among the league’s best. His homer rate was off the charts, but a 20.0% HR/FB suggests the 1.94/9 mark is hardly sustainable (though with balls continuing to fly out at record-shattering paces, expectations may need to be adjusted).