What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

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As is typical, we have a bit of an abbreviated schedule on Thursday. There were three afternoon starts, including the Giants/Braves game which has already ended in a 6-0 victory for not-the-Braves. That included a Madison Bumgarner homer, the 13th of his career. Some position players don’t even get there in a career. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks/Astros and Dodgers/Cubs games are still in progress.

Tonight at 7:10 PM EDT, Carlos Carrasco will start for the Indians against the Royals’ Yordano Ventura after being activated from the 15-day disabled list. The right-hander missed five weeks with a strained left hamstring. Carrasco was part of the prospect haul from the Phillies to the Indians in the Cliff Lee trade. He was joined by Jason Donald, Lou Marson, and Jason Knapp. At first, it didn’t appear that the Indians would get much out of the deal as the other three fizzled and Carrasco struggled to a 5.29 ERA over his first 40 starts and eight relief appearances.

Since 2014, however, Carrasco has a 3.13 ERA with a 376/77 K/BB ratio in 339 2/3 innings spanning 48 starts and 26 relief appearances. What changed? MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported back in 2014 that Carrasco changed to a higher arm slot to add deception. Compared to his pre-2014 performance, Carrasco saw a great deal of improvement in all of the stats that matter: strikeout rate, walk rate, ground ball rate, home run rate. Last year, though, he finished with a 3.63 ERA which was way higher than his peripherals would have suggested. So Carrasco came into the 2016 season as a sleeper. Unfortunately for him, he was injured after four starts with a 2.45 ERA. He’ll try to get back on the saddle tonight against the Royals.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez), 7:05 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Chase Anderson) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Jerad Eickhoff), 7:05 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Juan Nicasio) @ Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Michael Pineda) @ Detroit Tigers (Matt Boyd), 7:40 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore) @ Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Alfredo Simon) @ Colorado Rockies (Eddie Butler), 8:40 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Wade Miley) @ San Diego Padres (Colin Rea), 9:10 PM EDT