On January 7, 2021, the New York Mets pulled off one of the biggest blockbuster trades in franchise history when they acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Amed Rosario, Andrés Giménez, Josh Wolf, and Isaiah Greene. Lindor was the clear centerpiece in this deal, and rightfully so, given that he has been one of the top three or four shortstops in all of MLB since he debuted in 2015.
But alongside “Mr. Smile,” the Mets also acquired a bonafide front-of-the-rotation starter in Carrasco, who is under control on a team-friendly contract through at least 2023. Nicknamed “Cookie,” Carrasco had a strong bounce-back year in 2020 after missing time in 2019 due to his leukemia diagnosis. He figures to slot into the number two spot into the rotation behind Jacob deGrom, at least until Noah Syndergaard returns at full strength midway through 2021.
Though most of the Mets’ starting pitching accolades will (hopefully) revolve around deGrom this season, I am very optimistic for how Carrasco will perform in Queens. Here are some predictions for how I think his first season in Flushing will go.
There will be less than half a run difference between his and Mets teammate deGrom’s ERA
In 2020, both deGrom and Carrasco had excellent shortened seasons and were among their respective league leaders in ERA. deGrom ended up with a 2.38 ERA, which placed him fourth among NL pitchers, and Carrasco’s 2.91 ERA was seventh in the American League. Some quick math later, it becomes evident that these two quality pitchers were only 0.53 runs apart in their ERAs last season.
Though I always believe in deGrom’s ability to give up a scant amount of runs, Carrasco has the best chance of any Mets starter to give deGrom’s ERA a serious run for his money this season. Carrasco’s lowest single-season ERA in his career was 2.55 in 2014, though he only made 14 starts that season. By contrast, deGrom’s lowest single-season ERA so far was his sparkling 1.70 figure in his first Cy Young award-winning season in 2018. The other members of the Mets’ rotation to start the year figure to be Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, and possibly Joey Lucchesi, none of whom have ever had a full-season ERA approaching Carrasco’s career-low figure of 2.55.
With that said, I think it’s unlikely that deGrom will have an ERA quite as low as 1.70 in 2021 (though a girl can dream), and it’s far more likely for him to finish with an ERA in the low-to-mid twos. Carrasco pitched extremely well in a shortened sample last season, a full year removed from his leukemia diagnosis, and if his health holds up this year he is fully capable of keeping runs off the board and getting within half a run of deGrom’s 2021 ERA.