Carlos Carrasco is on fire for the Indians

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Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco came one out short of his first career shutout on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, firing 8 2/3 scoreless innings against the visiting White Sox. He was lifted at 103 pitches after allowing a two-out single to Jose Abreu in the top of the ninth inning. Cody Allen was called on to get the save in a 2-0 victory for the home team.

Carrasco yielded just four hits and struck out eight Chicago batters without issuing a walk. He’s been ace-like since returning to the Indians’ rotation on August 5, boasting a 0.70 ERA and 42/4 K/BB ratio spanning five starts and 38 2/3 innings. This run of dominance actually dates back to late April, when he was moved to the bullpen and began to shine.

“Pitching out of stretch. Cutting down pregame program. Really has taken relief mentality to starting,” is how MLB.com Indians beat writer Jordan Bastian described Carrasco’s emergence on Sunday.

Carrasco had a spot on Baseball America‘s Top 100 Prospects rankings in his age 20, 21, and 22 seasons, and he was a major piece of the package that the Phillies gave to the Indians for Cliff Lee in July 2009.

Now the Venezuelan is blossoming at age 27 for an Indians team that has won three straight games and might still have time to sneak into the playoffs. They’re five games back of the Royals in the American League Central and 3 1/2 games back of the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.