Making a Case for Carlos Carrasco to Be Known as the Face of the Indians Franchise

Mark Warmuth

Virtually every major league baseball team has one. That player who is identified with the franchise. They played in that town for their entire career, and they are that franchise's Mr. ________.

And it's not just restricted to large market cities. Kansas City has George Brett. Milwaukee has Robin Yount. Cincinnati has Johnny Bench and likely Joey Votto as well.

Minnesota has Joe Mauer and Kirby Puckett. Baltimore has Cal Ripken Jr. Atlanta? Chipper Jones.

Some cities have had these type of players, but unfortunately, they have passed away. We mentioned Puckett, and the Pirates had Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. The Cubs had Ernie Banks.

Currently, St. Louis has Yadier Molina and Washington has Ryan Zimmerman.

The Indians had Bob Feller, arguably the best Tribesman ever. However, what did those other players do that Feller didn't? The all played within the last 50 years.

Feller retired in 1956. That's 64 years ago.

Could the Indians have such a player on their roster right now? Well, as a matter of fact, they may. It's Carlos Carrasco.

Carrasco is beginning his 11th season with the organization, coming over in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Philadelphia.

The other players who came with him were infielder Jason Donald, who was moved in the deal that brought Trevor Bauer to Cleveland after the 2012 season, Lou Marson, who left as a free agent in 2013, and never played in the bigs again, and Jason Knapp, who developed arm trouble.

Carrasco came up to the Tribe late in '09 for five starts, and spent most of '10 in the minors as well, making seven starts and finishing with a 3.83 ERA in 45 innings.

Cookie opened with the big club in 2011, and was a mainstay in the rotation, making 21 starts before he injured his elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery, which kept him out through the 2012 season.

He made one April start in '13, but spent much of the first half of that season in AAA, before coming up in July. He struggled in six starts after coming back and finished the year in the bullpen.

In 2014, he again struggled opening the year as a starter, allowing 17 runs in 19 innings in four starts, and was again moved to relief.

It was in the bullpen that he revitalized his career.

The right-hander made 26 appearances out of the bullpen, going 3-1 with a save and a 2.30 ERA, striking out 39 batters in 43 innings.

On August 10th of that year, the Indians needed a starter in a game at Yankee Stadium, and Terry Francona and then pitching coach Mickey Callaway went with Carrasco, telling him to use the same aggressiveness he used in the 'pen.

Carrasco allowed two hits over five shutout innings, striking out four. He made nine more starts the rest of the season, pitching to a 1.30 ERA, and fanning 78 hitters. Included was a two hit shutout against Houston.

From there, Carrasco became one of the American League's most reliable starting pitchers, going 60-36 with a 3.40 ERA from 2015 to 2019.

Last year, as everyone knows, he was diagnosed with leukemia, and missed three months before coming back to pitch in relief in September.

This season, he will be back in the starting rotation, and should be back to being one of the premier starters in the American League.

He's also under contract with a club option through 2023, meaning he likely will finish his career here, and likely will wear just one team's uniform, the Cleveland Indians.

He's been underrated by fans here, mostly because he's pitched on the same staff as Corey Kluber, but people around baseball know how good of a pitcher Carlos Carrasco is.

That's one of the best in the game.