Roster moves made for an early June game are hardly the oddball, mostly because ever since going from a 15-day disabled list to a 10-day major league baseball teams shuffle players between healthy to “unhealthy” more often than a dealer shuffles cards at a blackjack table in Atlantic City. The shortened time allows for a franchise to test the waters with a prospect for a short time before having a regular starter return from a nagging injury, or for someone suffering from an “inflamed ERA” to sit and think about what he did1 for a bit.
Knowing this is the case, when Indians former phenom catching prospect Francisco Mejia got the call to the bigs yesterday, it seemed logical: backup catcher Roberto Perez got hit in the hand batting on Sunday, and while X-rays showed no break, it was almost certain Perez was hitting the disabled list with Mejia being the replacement backup to catcher Yan Gomes. Perez did not go on the DL, however, as reliever Evan Marshall got sent down to Triple-A Columbus and Mejia was available in Chicago. This lead to a very weird circumstance for Monday’s series opener against the White Sox: of the five-man bench employed by manager Terry Francona, only two players (Mejia and the ageless wonder that is Rajai Davis) were seemingly healthy enough to play.
It started on Saturday, with designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion getting a day off to recuperate from an ankle injury he suffered previously and Jason Kipnis getting replaced by Erik Gonzalez in the 12th inning of a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers with a stiff neck. Neither has seen the field since, and while it has been maintained both could be available for today’s game, adding Perez and his injured hand to the list of “well, I mean, they could play but it would be better not to have them out there” seems like a step in the wrong direction.
With a roster move needed to recall tonight’s starting pitcher Adam Plutko from Columbus, it remains to be seen what the corresponding decision will be. Will one or more of the “not quite dead yet” trifecta Encarnacion, Perez, and Kipnis be DL bound? Will Francisco Mejia have enough time to pack his things back into his duffel before being sent back down? Will a different relief pitcher be sacrificed to the DFA gods, Pedro Cerrano style?2
If I had my druthers, and I very rarely do, I would be fine with an Encarnacion/Perez disabled list stint, with Mejia sticking with the club and the #glorious Yandy Diaz joining Plutko on the trip to Chitown to serve as the “basically anywhere you want type” hitter. He could play in the outfield if Lonnie Chisenhall needed a breather against a tough lefty, or at third with Jose Ramirez doing his thang at second if Kipnis is out for an extended period of time as well. Diaz has also played first previously, and Yonder Alonso has always needed a caddy, so the move would make sense on numerous levels if Encarnacion is going to miss more time.
Is Carlos Carrasco good again?
After a semi-disastrous start3 against the Minnesota Twins on June 1st, Carlos Carrasco has put together two starts of 10+ strikeouts, allowing only one run and two walks in 14 innings pitched his last two times out. What changed over the last two outings that saw his performance change? Going by pure pitch type, it appears that Carrasco is choosing to tone back his usage of his slider in exchange for his changeup and/or curveball.
Carrasco is having an old school Salazar night. Ball is lively, tons of Ks, just lots of pitches to do it. Fun to watch, hope the bullpen can hold later.
— michael bode (@mgbode_WFNY) June 12, 2018
While not completely junking the pitch, Carrasco went from almost 30% slider to 18% in last night’s outing. The drop in usage did not hinder his ability to get the swing and miss with the pitch, garnering six whiffs with the slider on 23 offerings. Carrasco saw even better success with the changeup, getting the same amount of whiffs with fewer servings, as six of 16 changes were swung on and missed. If Carrasco continues to work in his secondary offerings in this manner, it appears he could be back to being the second ace on the staff, a spot rightfully taken over by Trevor Bauer. Either way, it’s a good issue to have.