Indians

Triple-digit glory and a dominant Cookie: Between Innings

1954. 1995. And now, 2017. Those are the only three seasons in the 117 season history of the Cleveland Indians that the team has finished with 100 or more victories. The Tribe won the AL pennant in both of those seasons only to fall in the World Series. It will be up to the current squad to navigate one of the most intense MLB postseason labyrinths ever constructed if they are to improve by one victory over their 2016 counterparts.

Fittingly, win No. 100, a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins, would fall within the confines of a dominant Carlos Carrasco start. In 8.1 innings pitched, Carrasco would finish with 14 strikeouts, one walk, and allow zero earned runs. The type of signature performance most fanbases would tout alongside a season of excellence as reasons for a legitimate bid for the AL Cy Young Award. You know, if that team did not also feature the favorite for the award in Corey Kluber.

K is for Cookie; that’s good enough for me.

That has been the crux with Carrasco over his career. His steadiness has dulled any reactionary emotional responses. He is not reviled by large portions of the fanbase as Bryan Shaw and Carlos Santana are, but he is not as beloved as Kluber or Francisco Lindor either. He doesn’t have the long hair or weird ticks on the mound of a Mike Clevinger. His ridiculously team-friendly contract through 2020 allows no worries to creep in about a life without him in the rotation. The Carlos Carrasco foundation work he does is a fantastic demonstration of his heart- uplifting children to provide the tools they need to succeed in life. However, he seeks no recognition for his humanitarian efforts and many do not realize all of the good he does.

Cookie has had an ERA at 3.32 and FIP at 3.10 three times over the last four seasons. Even his worst lines in that timeframe (3.63 ERA in 2015 and 3.72 FIP in 2016) are numbers most teams would appreciate from a No. 2 starter. Again, Carrasco suffers from a comparison issue. Without Kluber, more would appreciate Carrasco’s 3.24 ERA and 3.03 FIP in 664 innings pitched over the last four years with a 1.078 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9,1 and 51-33 record (if you are into that sort of thing). Through no fault of his own though, Kluber has been better. Kluber’s 2.84 ERA and 2.77 FIP in 871.1 innings pitched with a 1.021 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/92 and 63-38 record each eclipse those fantastic stats Cookie put up. Add in Kluber finishing in the Top 10 of the Cy Young Award voting each season (winning once) and there is a reason Kluber is the team’s ace.

Still, Cookie deserves a Top 5 finish in the 2017 AL Cy Young Award voting despite few mentioning his candidacy. Corey Kluber and Chris Sale have separated themselves from everyone else in the AL. Both have fWAR above 7.0. Kluber’s bWAR of 8.0 dwarfs Sale’s 6.1, but there are enough peripheral statistics that are split where it will come down to a close vote between the two pitchers for the award. However, after them, there are a litany of pitchers vying for a spot on the voting cards with Carrasco having a great case for being next.

Carrasco is ranked fifth in the AL in bWAR (5.6) and fourth in fWAR (5.5). He is Top 5 in wins (18, 1st), strikeouts (226, 5th), strikeout rate (28.3%, 5th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (22.6%, 4th), WHIP (1.10, 4th), FIP (3.10, 4th), and sixth by a hundredth of a run in ERA (3.29). The pitcher whose numbers Cookie most closely resembles is Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Yes, this is the same Severino whom many are rightfully hoping the Yankees need to burn to win an AL Wild Card game so that the Indians will not have to face him more than once in the ALDS.

Most discussion around the Indians awards has focused on Jose Ramirez and Lindor in the AL MVP race. Or Kluber for the AL Cy Young Award. Just don’t forget that Carrasco also deserves mention for that AL Cy Young as he has been among the best pitchers in the AL this season and throughout the past four. The steady excellence should put some fear into opposing lineups. Maybe Cookie will start to gain some more vocal credit for it with a dominant October run.

Tigers get no milk with their serving of Cookie.
  1. 4.82 K:BB []
  2. 5.31 K:BB !!! []

  • Chris

    Getting in line for ALCS tickets at the Juice Box? Jeeze are they hot right now

  • MartyDaVille

    Klubes should get the Cy, particularly in view of his his lights-out finish to the season. Sale has had a very uneven, sometimes rough, last six weeks. He’s given up 22 ERs in his last 46 IP, and he’s gone 3-4 in his last seven decisions.

    On the other hand, our bullpen has been kind of shaky of late. Come the playoffs, I hope Francona keeps them on the old short leash, particularly Shaw. In the playoffs, you can’t always take a chance that a guy will work himself out of trouble.

  • Chris

    I’m still miffed Porcello won the Cy Young last year

  • mgbode

    Just four years ago, people whined that Crane was ruining the franchise by tanking to load up on young talent. Saying he would never win back the city. Whoops.

  • Chris

    KRANEZ R CHEEP!!!

    That’s right when I lived there. They were affectionately referred to as the Lastros.

    A high school buddy and I went to a Tribe game that year and got a “Here we go Brownies” chant going. Hindsight, it was a bit embarrassing for the Browns fan base… but not nearly as embarrassing as the Astros fan base for not having enough people at the game to stop us.

  • JNeids

    I would like to apologize to Cookie. A couple months ago, I was asked who my favorite Indians player(s) is/are. I answered honestly with Frankie and JoRam, but Cookie absolutely should have been included and not just for his on-field performance. From stealing Andre Knott’s mic to the mini ball fam to being ballboy for a day, the guy just wants to enjoy his 4 days off between starts. Obviously that’s easier to do on a good team, but at the same time, when that team has the highest of expectations, the mood can get tense. And from what I see, Cookie does a great job lightening that mood. Just seems like a great dude, and easily one of my favorites.

  • Chris

    No apologies necessary. The great thing about this team is that there is a plethora of fantastic options

  • JNeids

    There really are. Kluber rounded out my top 4, but there were plenty of others who received consideration as well.

  • scripty

    That SI piece on Houston said DET ies eating $8mm a year on the Verlander contract.

  • mgbode

    I miss the lower deck right field seats that were $18 and included a hot dog, chips, and a drink. The kids tickets there even included a voucher for an Astros hat.

  • mgbode

    Cookie, Santana, Clevinger are my three favorites but yeah, can pretty much pick anybody.

  • Chris

    Crawford Boxes were always a ripoff though

  • JNeids

    Clevinger is quickly climbing the ranks.

  • scripty

    I think what we learned this year is that Shaw can’t sustain the 75 appearances anymore if you want his best stuff. He’s been at 75 games for 5 years now. I think we’ll need to look at 65-70 for him.

  • CBiscuit

    “Both have fWAR above 7.0. Kluber’s bWAR of 8.0 dwarfs Sale’s 6.1, but there are enough peripheral statistics that are split where it will come down to a close vote between the two pitchers for the award.”

    Wha…? Your precious WAR muddled by peripheral statistical arguments?! I kid. It will be surely close, but I think Kluber wins it. WAR aside…. 4 fewer starts, but yet innings and strikeouts (and good rate) are still there…and he bests in wins (w less support than Sale enjoyed), ERA, WHIP, 5 CGs and 3 shutouts.

  • scripty

    My theory is baseball writers hate Chris Sale as he is a solid gold (jerk) and the vote won’t be as close as the stats indicate. For better or worse…

  • mgbode

    But… his velocity picked up over the last several weeks. Think he’ll just have blips from time-to-time.

    Also, it’ll be real hard to sign him back for next year (he’s an UFA).

  • mgbode

    Easy arguments can be made for either pitcher. I prefer Kluber and think his September run will be the separating factor amongst some voters.

  • scripty

    Nick Goody’s mom came at me on twitter b/c I sed Nick was all about meatballs yesterday.

  • Eric G

    It’s clearly the best of those wonky jerseys they wore in July (?). No one in the world doesn’t love cookies.

    If I may paraphrase: You know what else everybody likes? Cookies. Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some cookies,” they say, “No, I don’t like no cookies”?

  • CBiscuit

    Agree. Personality is a factor…we’re all subject to likeability sways (even statboys maybe?).

  • mgbode

    Have to respect the moms defending their kids.

  • jpftribe

    It would be great to see Klub’s get the CY, but voters are gonna vote and it’s not like Sale was horrible. Honestly, if I were going to build a team, I’d take Kluber in a minute, but a lefty also has some inherent value over a righty.

    Sale is a bit of a nut job, but so was Nolan Ryan, Goose Gossage, Bob Gibson, Randy Johnson and plenty of others. Not sure that is going to be much of a factor.

  • Chris
  • jpftribe

    It’s not just Cookie but the whole rotation is so vastly underrated by most Indians fans. Tomlin takes a lot of grief, but for the Twins and Yankees, he’s No 2/3 in the playoffs. And he would be pitching for the Stros and maybe BoSox as well.

    I remember Andre reporting on Salazar during the Dodgers series. A “top level” member of the Dodgers org told him, “if you guys can’t fix him, send him over to us. We will.”

  • Steve

    He also has started up two charities, one to help local children, one to help people back in his birthplace of Venezuela, and has been the Indians’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente award for three straight years.

  • Steve

    Just as long as we keep his outing short tomorrow. I’m not sure why he wasn’t flipped to today. He would be on four days rest, they could keep his outing short, and give him another day’s rest before the game that actually counts.

  • JM85

    I love our pitching staff.

  • jpftribe

    Hammy was still making noise about who will really pitch Game 1 and 2 yesterday. They may be keeping options open.

  • Steve

    Rank of probable playoff starters by RoS projected ERA over at Fangraphs:

    2 Kluber
    3 Carrasco
    11 Bauer
    16 Tomlin

    1 Sale
    10 Pomeranz
    12 Porcello
    14 Rodriguez

    5 Severino
    13 Gray
    9 Tanaka
    17 Sabathia

    6 Keuchel
    7 Verlander
    4 McCullers
    8 Morton

    18 Santana
    15 Berrios
    19 Mejia
    20 Gibson

    The Twins rotation is pretty darn awful for a playoff team, but Tomlin would only beat out Sabathia among all the other teams. Salazar’s projection would slide in between McCullers and Severino, Clevinger between Berrios and Tomlin.

  • Steve

    If Kluber doesn’t pitch game one, someone is being too clever by half.

  • jpftribe

    I think it’s nuts too, but Hamilton has been riding that horse for a couple of weeks now. Someone may be pulling his leg, or trying to keep the dogs off the trail, but I don’t think he’s just making it up.

  • Eric G

    I oftentimes wondered why his eyes weren’t asymmetrical. Do all “monsters” have vision problems? Does he have a disease?

  • Chris
  • mgbode

    Pretty sure we are rolling with Salazar for a short start w/ Clevinger coming in to relieve him.

  • Steve

    I’m hoping, but I just saw Team Cribbage bat cleanup all of last postseason despite not being able to hit a beachball, face the best lefties in the Cubs lineup despite having a significant platoon split, and be given the last AB of the playoffs. Hopefully Salazar and Clevinger have been brushing up on their card-playing skills.

  • jpftribe

    Fascinating decision isn’t it?

  • jpftribe

    After yesterday, I think mom might be disappointed with the playoff roster.

  • Steve

    https://twitter.com/mlbastian/status/913869438058926081

    Brilliant. Francona seems to be starting his touchdown dance at the 10 yard line.

  • scripty

    i said he served up a meatball in the 9th, and a friend sayd he’d rather not be on the playoff roster, and then mom found us (not even tagged him) and said we can’t talk b/c we’ve never played in the bigs.

  • scripty

    I think it kind of depends on how games 1-2-3 go. Who knows. I am actually not sweating it. I can’t pretend to know how to manage them. All very good candidates.

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