The New York Mets have been off to a fantastic start this season and are currently the best team in the National League with a 45-25 record. As fans are quite acquainted with, the month of May has all too often been a time where the Mets tend to severely underperform and have frequently jeopardized great starts they’ve put together in April.
But after going 19-10 in May and defying the odds of falling short in a month that haunts them every season, the Mets have maintained a high level of resiliency and execution with both their hitting and pitching that’s allowed them to succeed with utter dominance and authority well into the month of June.
Although the Mets are the best hitting team in baseball right now (they are first in hits, RBIs, and OBP), a feat that’s clearly spearheaded their early success this season, the Mets’ pitching has played an integral role as well into why this team has had so much success this year. With no Jacob DeGrom since the start of the season and without their newly acquired ace Max Scherzer (who’s been sidelined with an oblique injury following eight starts), the Mets pitching has still been able to stand strong, even amongst their starting rotation. And leading the charge has been none other than the veteran arm of Carlos Carrasco.
Following a 2021 season that was well below par, the 35-year-old transformed himself into a stabilizing cornerstone piece in the rotation and has looked the complete opposite from what he illustrated just a year ago.
To give you an idea, in the 12 games he started last year, Carrasco went 1-5 with a 6.04 ERA (his worst output since 2013), to go with a 1.43 WHIP, 36 earned runs, and 12 home runs in 53.2 innings pitched. In fact, Carrasco did so poorly that he finished with a WAR that was in the negatives (-0.8).
But in 2022, a lot has changed, and impressively so. Carrasco, who’s tied in second in wins this season (8), has been pitching much better than many have expected. Currently posting a 3.96 ERA in 13 starts with a 1.25 WHIP, Carrasco has gathered 75 strikeouts while only allowing six home runs, which is half of what he had the season prior despite logging in 25 extra innings. To add to it, Carrasco has only 16 walks (when he gave up 18 last year) and has a WAR of 1.2.
What he has managed to achieve has been incredible to behold. Though he won’t light up the radar gun with high 90s stuff, Carrasco’s control, precision, and bite to his pitches, has led him to have a big bounce-back performance so far that could very well place him amongst the All-Star reserves this year.
However, a vital factor that’s still up in the air is how Carrasco will fair over the course of a full season of work. Already this year, Carrasco has found it difficult to keep runners off the base paths, conceding an OBA of .280 or higher in the month of May and June. After posting a 3.60 ERA in May, Carrasco is averaging a 3.91 ERA in June and has given up 10 earned runs in 23 innings pitched when he only gave up 12 in 30 innings last month. Moreover, Carrasco has conceded eight walks so far in June, which is twice the amount he allowed in both May and April.
Although his recent shakiness might not be a grave concern, it has certainly setback his success to an extent, and at times, Carrasco has made some of his stretches on the mound a bit more challenging than they needed to be. Even though both Scherzer and DeGrom could be back in a matter of weeks, Carrasco has proven to be a very important part of this rotation and has still yet to demonstrate he’ll be as reliable headed into the second half of the season. We saw this with Taijuan Walker last year, and the Mets certainly don’t need a déjà vu of that this season with Carrasco.
That all said, can Carrasco continue to be this dominant for the remainder of the year? Though it’s hard to say just yet, the answer is yes, and for a couple of key reasons.
For starters, the Mets’ offense has been downright elite this year and has provided a level of support that’s been ideal, currently sitting in first in the MLB in runs (350). Just to give you an idea, aside from his second loss he sustained at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels, Carrasco has managed to secure five wins in his last six starts despite giving up three or more runs in three of those wins. In other words, even if he has a poor outing, the Mets offense can still bail him out with runs. And having that grants a pitcher a lot of confidence on the mound.
Secondly, Carrasco has shown that he has a better feel for his stuff as well as his command, which has made his pitching harder to go up against. Using his fastball the most (38.1%), Carrasco’s frequent integration of his changeup (23.6%) and slider (23.5%) have led him to have one lethal chase rate that is currently up in the 98th percentile. Though Carrasco has by no means matched the talent level of his 2017 or 2018 peak seasons, he certainly looks like his good old self and possesses a much stronger grip on his pitching control.
As things stand right now, Carrasco could very well fluctuate over and under the 4.00 mark with his ERA. But unless it hits 5.00 or more, there’s no reason to panic over his durability, seeing how confident, composed, and consistent Carrasco has been so far. With a dangerous Mets offense to support him, Carrasco has everything in place to continue his excellence well into the month of September.