The 2021 Cleveland Indians have carried bad luck into the new year, as the news of Francisco Lindor being traded to the New York Mets broke the hearts of many. However, people forget about the other piece of the trade that will be leaving, long-time Indians’ veteran Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco. The 2021 Cleveland Indians will be the first team since 2009 that does not feature Carrasco in the navy and red. To give him a proper farewell from the 2021 Cleveland Indians, here is a breakdown of “Cookie” Carrasco’s career and his rise to fame.
Carlos Carrasco was born on March 21, 1987, in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He signed to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003 as an undrafted free agent. After three years in the Phillies minor league system, Carrasco began to roar through the minors by having a 2.26 ERA in Single-A ball.
After his breakout season in 2006, the future star continued his reign of dominance, as he threw his first professional no-hitter in 2007 and becoming the top prospect in the Phillies organization in the same year. In 2008, he also made an appearance in the All-Star Futures Game, which featured the talents of Jake Arrieta, Elvis Andres, and Andrew McCutchen.
2021 Cleveland Indians: The Beginning of New Era
Tribe fans remember the 2009 trade that found Cliff Lee, the former Cy Young Award winner, leaving Cleveland for the City of Brotherly Love. But, disgruntled Cleveland Indians fans did not realize the impact that former GM Mark Shapiro was looking for:
“At the root of this deal was balancing the conviction of our ability to compete in 2010 with the opportunity to impact the team’s construction for years to come. Without the sense of confidence in the team’s ultimate competitiveness, we acted aggressively to add players that will impact the organization in 2010 and beyond.”
Now, did they completely miss on Jason Knapp, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald? Yes, 100%. My Jason Donald autographed baseball couldn’t even get me a bag of chips today. But, since Cleveland is a small-market, they believed Cliff Lee would have signed somewhere else, so they tried to see a return that could help them move on in their future.
The replacement? 22-year-old Carlos Carrasco, who was a menace in the minors before being traded.
Cookie made his debut on Sept 1, 2009, against powerhouse division rival Detroit Tigers. Unfortunately, this was not a night to remember, as the rookie pitcher went three innings and gave up six earned runs along with three home runs. The struggle continued the next two seasons, as he would go 2-2 in seven appearances in 2010 and 8-9 in 21 games during the 2011 season.
The First Setback
Carrasco faced his first challenge in his career when he found out he would need Tommy John Surgery in September of 2011. The Cleveland Indians would not see him for the whole 2012 season, which was a huge blow to the starting pitching rotation that featured no starting pitchers with a winning record. In 2013, he saw limited time, as he pitched in only 15 games and carried a 1-4 record.
Eventually, after five years of grinding and finding his identity as a pitcher, the 27-year-old found his groove and was able to become a force to be reckoned with for the Tribe.
The Breakout (Finally)
2014 marks the year that Carlos Carrasco solidified his spot in the soon-to-be lethal pitching core for the Indians.
Going 8-7, with a 2.55 ERA, and 140 strikeouts, Carrasco flashed signs of his top-prospect form in 2014. He would follow his breakout year with a 14-12 record with a 1.073 WHIP in 2015, and an 11-8 record in a shorten 2016 season due to two trips to the injury reserve. The second trip was due to a line drive that hit his pitching hand and did not allow him to pitch in the Indians’ historical 2016 postseason run.
But Carrasco did not let this injury set him back.
The (Almost) Cy Young Season
2017 was the year that the Indians pitching rotation became the best in the league.
This was a rare sight. A small-market team having the best pitching rotation was unheard of since the crown would usually be taken by teams like the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, the 2017 Cleveland Indians featured Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA), Trevor Bauer (17-9), and Mike Clevinger (12-6, 3.11 ERA). Carrasco also was a key contributor to this elite pitching staff, as he went 18-6 with a career-high 226 strikeouts.
People forget about his historical season, as he was the number two for the Indians, as he was overshadowed by Corey Kluber, who would take the top spot and win the Cy Young Award in 2017. Carrasco finished fourth place in the Cy Young Award race, as he received 20% of the share award.
His hot 2017 season rolled into 2018, as the veteran pitcher would go 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA.
The Second Setback
The beginning of the 2019 season did not start well for Carrasco, as the now 32-year-old veteran seemed to be losing the dominance that he commanded in 2017 and 2018. He was eventually placed on the 10-IR, as he was “diagnosed with a blood condition.” On July 6, Carrasco revealed that he had been diagnosed with Leukemia.
The news shocked the baseball world, as the once talented pitcher would now be facing life or death. Indians fans worried about the health of their beloved pitcher. Questions of “when will he return” became “will he ever return?”
Carrasco did eventually make it back with the team, as he was activated from the IL on Aug 28, 2019. He would also make his first appearance back from his life-threatening illness on Sept 1, when he came in relief against the Tampa Bay Rays. He went one inning and gave up two hits, but fans were ecstatic to finally see Carrasco back in business.
The Final Goodbye
Even though Carlos Carrasco won’t be on the 2021 Cleveland Indians, he will always be a part of the Indians. Through the highs and the lows, he remained loyal to Cleveland.
A true warrior, he overcame adversity all his career, whether it was coming back from Tommy John surgery or beating leukemia. Carrasco was not just a baseball player to look up to, but a perfect role model for all. He will be missed by all, especially the 2021 Cleveland Indians roster.
From the City of Cleveland, we thank you for everything you’ve done for the Cleveland Indians, and we wish you the best of luck in New York.
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