he way we view starting pitchers in Fantasy Baseball has changed. Pitchers aren’t going as deep into games anymore. Only 15 pitchers reached 200 innings last season and landing an elite ace is going to take an early pick.
In most 15-team drafts, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale are going in the first round. If you miss out on one of these arms, one pitcher to target in Rounds 3-4 is Carlos Carrasco.
The Indians right-hander has quietly been one of the top arms the last few seasons. Some might be hesitant to take him as a No. 1 pitcher due to workload concerns, but almost every pitcher around him has some question marks.
Carrasco had elbow soreness last March, and it turned out to be nothing. Carrasco reached 200 innings for the first time in his career. In 32 starts, he went 18-6 and pitched exactly 200 innings. He had a 3.29 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 28.3 percent strikeout rate and a 5.8 percent walk rate. Carrasco had a 13.4 percent swinging strike rate.
In a year in which almost every pitcher was hurt by home runs, Carrasco allowed less than a homer per inning (0.95 HR/9). Over the last four seasons, Carrasco has pitched 134, 183.2, 146.1 and 200 innings. He has produced a 3.63 ERA or less each of those seasons. The WHIP has been 1.15 or less in each year, too.
Carrasco throws a fastball, slider, curve, and changeup. Carrasco’s secondary pitches are better than his fastball, and he realizes it. He only threw his fastball 48.4 percent of the time last season compared to 55.7 percent in 2014, and that was common for Indians pitchers. One concern is the ground ball rate going down in four straight seasons. It had gone from 52.5 percent in 2014 to 45.2 percent last season, but it’s still slightly above league average.
Carrasco finished the season strong, which is a good sign for someone that threw a career-high in innings. In his last ten starts, he had a 1.82 ERA. In 69.1 innings, he allowed 57 hits, walked 10 and struck out 84. In a 15-team draft champions format, I took Carrasco as the 11th starting pitcher off the board in round three as my No. 2 behind Madison Bumgarner. I am fine with him as my No. 1, too.
Carrasco is a Top 10 starting pitcher, and if he can get to 210-220 innings, he could finish Top 5. All the components are there for Carrasco to produce to that level.