2011 Season In Review: D.J. Carrasco

By Unknown author

The New York Mets as a whole went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an on-going series, will analysis every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at reliever D.J. Carrasco

When Sandy Alderson was making moves last off-season, he offered most players one year deals, sometimes laden with incentives.  He did, however, sign two players to reasonable multi-year contracts.  One has worked out quite well so far-that being R.A. Dickey.  The other, D.J. Carrasco, had a forgettable 2011 and will look to make great strides in the second year of his deal next season.

Carrasco, who split time in 2010 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks, was inked to a two year, $2.4 million contract.  The righty was coming off three solid season, in which he posted a 3.77 ERA, 1.322 WHIP and 2.04 K/BB, mainly in middle relief.  With the ability to give the team innings out of the bullpen and spot start if necessary, Carrasco seemed like a good pickup.  However, he never really got it going and struggled all year long.

Overall, his numbers were pretty ugly (so ugly in fact, that D.J. enjoyed a trip to Buffalo from late April to early June).  In 42 appearances (one of which was a start), Carrasco pitched 49.1 innings, owning a 6.02 ERA (4.77 xFIP, 4.36 SIERA), 1.628 WHIP, 4.9 K/9 and 1.69 K/BB.  In addition, Carrasco posted the lowest ground ball rate of his career (43.6%) while allowing seven homers (a HR/9 of 1.3, the highest of his career, although to be fair, three of those homers came in his one start of the season).  One area in which Carrasco succeeded was stranding inherited runners: only six of 26 scored all season (a 23% clip), three of which came in his second to last appearance of the year.

So why did Carrasco struggle? One reason would be his aforementioned low ground ball rate.  Another would be that the righty just didn’t miss as man bats has had in previous season.  From 2008-10, Carrasco posted a K/9 of 6.7; in 2011, that rate dropped to 4.9.  His overall swing and miss rate stood at 6.8%, well below the 8.7% clip he posted in 2010.  Opposing hitters made contact 85.1% of the time, up from 80.0% in 2010.  Furthermore, when chasing pitches out of the strike zone, hitters made contact 72.7% of the time, well up from 62.3% in 2010.

And yet there is some reason to believe that Carrasco could bounce back in 2012.  For one, his BABIP in 2011 was .355, unusually high and probably unsustainable over the course of two seasons.  Second, Carrasco went through a variety of roles this season, initially relieving, then starting in the minors before returning to the bullpen in June.  Although he is capable of being a swingman, having a more defined role (something that nobody in the Mets bullpen really enjoyed this past season) should help him develop some consistency.  If Carrasco can regain his prior form, he can still be an important part of the Mets relief corps in 2012.