Posted on June 5, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Things have not gone according to plan for the Cleveland Indians this season. That trend continued in a rather serious way on Wednesday when the team announced that starter Carlos Carrasco has been placed on the Injured List for non-baseball reasons. Carrasco has been diagnosed with an unspecified blood condition. He will not participate in any baseball activities for the time being, although the Indians expect him to return later this season. The news came just hours before Carrasco was scheduled to start Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins.
“Carlos was recently diagnosed with a blood condition following several weeks of feeling lethargic,” read a statement from the Indians. While in the information-gathering stage, Carlos is stepping away from baseball activities to explore the optimal treatment and recovery options, the details of which will be conveyed at the discretion of Carlos and his family.
“We do not know when Carlos will rejoin the club but expect him back at some point this season. At this time, our primary concern is Carlos’ health and we will respect his wishes to keep this a private matter. We ask everyone to keep Carlos and his family in their thoughts during his challenging time.”
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Obviously, it’s unclear what the exact health issue Carrasco is battling. The team’s mention of recent fatigue could explain why Carrasco struggled a bit during the second half of May. He’s given up 14 earned runs in his last 17.1 innings over his last three starts, causing his ERA to spike to 4.98 for the season. Prior to that stretch, Carrasco’s ERA was at 4.18.
Carrasco has been an invaluable part of the Cleveland rotation during the team’s reign at the top of the AL Central in recent years. Over the past four seasons, he’s started at least 25 games per year, posted an ERA under 4.00 every season, and won a total of 60 games. His consistency is a big reason why the Indians have won three consecutive division titles.
Despite a slight drop-off in his performance this season, the loss of Carrasco is a big blow to the Indians. Cleveland has been without Mike Clevinger since early April and Corey Kluber since early May. They’ve also been without Danny Salazar since the end of the 2017 season. Replacement starter Jefry Rodriguez went on the IL on Tuesday with a shoulder injury, further hurting Cleveland’s rotation depth. While both Clevinger and Kluber are making progress in their recovery, their return is not yet imminent.
At the moment, Trevor Bauer, Shane Bieber, and rookie Zach Plesac are the only healthy members of their rotation. All three have pitched well this season. However, the same can’t be said for the replacement starters the Indians have brought up from their farm system. Adam Plutko and Cody Anderson are likely next in line to be called up. But both have struggled at the big league level when called upon this season.
Amidst all the injuries to their rotation, the Indians have fallen 10.5 games behind the Twins in the AL Central. The good news is they remain in the hunt for the second wild-card spot in the American League. However, it will be a challenge staying afloat with their rotation missing so many key pieces. Carrasco had been doing his best to step up with Clevinger and Kluber out. But now the Indians have another starter who’s MIA, further decreasing their chances of claiming a fourth straight division title.