The Mets’ trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco in early 2021 will always be referenced as the trade for the superstar shortstop, but the addition of the veteran right-handed starting pitcher was significant. The team had Jacob deGrom atop its rotation but a good deal of uncertainty about its rotation as a whole at the time, and Carrasco had a great track record, got back to the major league mound after beating cancer, and had posted very good numbers in the short 2020 season.
Unfortunately, injuries delayed Carrasco’s debut with the Mets by several months last year. And when he did return to the mound, he wasn’t the pitcher that he had been before. In just 53.2 innings of work last year—fewer innings than he had thrown in 2020—Carrasco finished with a 6.04 ERA and 5.22 FIP. His was still a feel-good story, and the sample was small. But if you were concerned about his ability to be a reliable piece of the Mets’ rotation in 2022, that would have been fair.
This year, however, he began the season healthy and looked very sharp in the process, putting up a 1.47 ERA through his first three starts. But a shellacking in St. Louis in late April saw his ERA jump to 4.50. And thanks to a mix of good starts and pretty bad ones, he carried a 4.85 ERA through the end of June.
Things changed for the better from there. Carrasco gave up just one run in five-and-one-third innings in his first start in July, and he followed that up with four more good starts in a row, finishing the month with a 0.90 ERA in five starts. He pitched pretty well to begin August, too, but an oblique injury landed him on the injured list for the second half of that month. He returned to the mound in early September, perhaps a little earlier than expected given the injury, and he put up a 4.21 ERA in six starts the rest of the way.
Add it all up, and Carrasco finished the year with a 3.97 ERA and a 3.53 FIP in 152.0 innings over 29 starts. While those numbers don’t match what he had done in his time in Cleveland, they were better than the major league averages of a 4.05 ERA and 4.04 FIP for starting pitchers during the 2022 season. And on top of those solid numbers, Carrasco’s father got to see him pitch a major league game in person for the first time in a game at Citi Field this season.
The Mets have an option on Carrasco for the 2023 season that will either pay him $14 million if the team picks it up or a $3 million buyout if the option is declined. Given that the Mets’ entire 2022 rotation aside from Max Scherzer could hit free agency if Carrasco’s option is declined, it might make sense for the team to pick it up. And when you look at the list of potential free agent starting pitchers, the Mets could do much worse than trying to retain most of that group.