Once a franchise built on their dominant starting pitching, the 2021 version of the New York Mets has experienced a mixed bag of results from their rotation. Of course, ace Jacob deGrom has produced at an unreal level. We’re running out of adjectives to accurately describe his excellence. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker have also been a breath of fresh air with ERAs under 2.50.
Unfortunately for the Mets, the back end of the rotation has been a bit of a disaster. Second-year player David Peterson has failed to live up to his promising rookie campaign. As things currently stand, he holds a 2-5 record and a pitiful 4.95 ERA.
Additionally, former Padres starter Joey Lucchesi has pitched to the tune of a 1-4 record with a 4.46 ERA. While his production was sub-par, the real blow came when Lucchesi suffered a torn UCL that is expected to end his season. This left the Mets in dire need of help.
The Mets have a clear need for a consistent starter. Or, perhaps two. While the trade market may be a viable option, New York also has another path toward adding a top starter: the recovery of Carlos Carrasco.
It seems so long ago that the Mets made the blockbuster trade that landed them superstar Francisco Lindor. As we near the mid-way point in the campaign, the former Cleveland shortstop has already experienced the struggle of playing in a major market. He is also, hopefully, beginning to recapture his MVP form.
Through it all, it’s easy to forget that the Mets were able to steal another difference-making piece in their trade. Carrasco is a veteran arm with a recent track record of success. He holds a 3.77 career ERA and a 88-73 career record. Most recently, he posted an ERA of 2.91 during the 2020 regular season.
The Mets are desperate for this type of player infusion. However, the 34-year-old Carrasco has yet to make his Mets debut. A torn hamstring before Opening Day has halted what could have been a dangerous union between player and club. As the All-Star break approaches, the question must be asked: Does Carlos Carrasco have any real value to the Mets in 2021?
The Reason for Hope
I say yes! Reports are beginning to emerge that the 11-year veteran is making solid progress toward an on-field return. He has begun throwing off a slope. The team is also hopeful that he can rejoin the club as early as late-July.
This would be a massive boost for New York. Even realizing that Carrasco will undoubtedly take some time to shake off the rust and find his stride (particularly considering the length of his absence and his age), his presence in the rotation would represent a major weapon.
In one sense, a returning Carrasco would help the Mets with their immediate pitching needs. Even a few innings once a week would alleviate pressure from letter starters. It would also keep the bullpen from being overused.
However, Cookie Carrasco’s real value would likely come later in the season. The Mets, despite all their pitching woes, still find themselves atop the NL East with a 41-34 record. It also appears as though several injured hitters and pitchers are beginning to return, signifying much-needed reinforcements.
Should New York continue on this season arc, they will find themselves in key games during the season’s final stretch. These games could mean the difference between a postseason berth and a major disappointment. Having a player like Carrasco, who boasts four solid pitches, could turn a blowout loss into a legitimate chance to earn a victory.
His most effective and most utilized pitch, a four-seamed fastball is a particularly dangerous weapon. It typically sits at 92-94 mph with excellent control. Watch how it freezes an MLB hitter.
The Mets should expect similar results from a healthy Carrasco. So keep your heads up fans! Whether New York swings a deal for another starter or elects to stand firm, the calvary is on the way.