Behind the Box Score: Carrasco vs. Mauer

CLEVELAND – Historical trends traditionally stay true to form when a hitter has the ability to consistently demolish an opposing pitcher.

Carlos Carrasco vs. Joe Mauer was an exception to this rule on Friday evening at Target Field.

One of the game’s best pure hitters entered play slashing .500/.542/.818 (11-for-22) with four doubles, one home run, three RBIs and two walks against Carrasco. Additionally, Mauer featured a 3.3% swinging strike rate – the lowest percentage in baseball – and a 13.7% strikeout rate – his lowest mark dating back to 2012.

In other words, Mauer puts the bat on the ball to limit strikeouts and make him one of the toughest outs, especially against right-handed pitching…

As shown above, Carrasco was more than accepting of the challenge as he struck out the former number one overall pick each time he faced him…

Result: Swinging strikeout on a 2-2 two-seam fastball in the dirt

Result: Swinging strikeout on a 1-2 slider at the knees

Result: Swinging strikeout on a 1-2 slider at the knees

Yes, that is a 100% strikeout percentage and 23.1% swinging strike percentage against Joe Mauer, the same guy who batted .365/.444/.587 in 2009 with three batting titles, six All-Star Game appearances and one MVP award already featured on his never-ending resume of achievements. 

“I think it was a little bit of the way that I pitched,” Carrasco said. “My changeup was good today. The other one I think was a slider.”

In each of the above sequences, Carrasco is able to get ahead in the count, throw quality strikes in the bottom third of the strike zone and change speeds with his two-seam fastball and slider to produce uncharacteristic whiffs on pitches outside the zone.

“I just went over there (and did) my job,” said Carrasco. “I think I didn’t have my best fastball command. It wasn’t quit there. I can throw a lot of innings, too. Try to get deep in the game and that’s what we did.”

One of the keys for the 30-year-old right-hander has been the use of secondary pitches instead of the fastball. Each of his seven punch-outs on the evening seemed to be on a different put-away pitch located low and out of the zone…

Recent data from Fangraphs has him throwing the fastball at a career-low clip of 51.9%, exemplifying the confidence he has in his other grips like the slider (14.1%), curveball (16.6%) and changeup (17.5%), all usage rates hovering around previous career-highs.

“I think the more important (thing) is (to) just get two strikes,” Carrasco said. “Trying to use my best pitch right there. That’s what I did.”

When Carrasco is throwing strikes with a wide array of pitch types, speeds and spin rates, his overall effectiveness boosts to an unprecedented level.

“Early in the game, he made pitches when he had to,” said manager Terry Francona. “He competed really well. I think it just kind of shows the stuff he has.” 

Not only does this yield quality starts against top teams like the Twins, but it also makes future Hall of Fame hitters like Joe Mauer look human.

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *