If you were to venture a guess as to who the best pitcher in baseball was for the past month, Carlos Luis Carrasco might not be the first name to roll off your tongue.
But the big righty from Barquisimeto, home to the Cardenales de Lara, has been nothing short of stunning. In six starts since August 10, he’s 4-0 with a 0.70 ERA, having given up just three runs in 38.2 innings. In addition, he’s struck out 42 and walked only four.
This is a man with a chequered MLB history, who, given the chance in the Cleveland rotation back in April, fell flat on his face. An Indians beat writer almost joyously proclaimed on May 2 that the team had “finally banished him to the bullpen.” He was 0-for-April in four starts, losing three of them and sporting a hefty 6.95 ERA. And to make things worse, he criticized the Indians’ pitching coach.
Coming into the season, C.L.C. had not won an MLB game since 2011. After that, his career has become even more interesting.
He was once rated the Phillies top pitching prospect, and was part of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Indians. In 2011, he threw at Billy Butler’s head and was suspended. He missed all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Last season, he got sent down to the Columbus Clippers three different times, and got suspended again–8 games this time– for throwing at Kevin Youkilis. On a regular basis, this guy was making everyone in his dugout, and everyone in the other dugout, mad at him.
So 2014 was going to be an interesting year for Carlos, and he responded out of the gate like a nag in the mud. Then, in August, he got a second chance, and blossomed like the famous Flor de Venezuela, a giant public sculpture in his home city of Barquisimeto. The modernist artwork by native Jose Fructoso Vivas Vivas (Fruto Vivas), inspired by both the beautiful Venezuelan orchid and the native tepuye flower, contains 16 petals and opens in a variety of postmodern arrays.
Fruto once said, “My dream is to coexist with nature, not that we should be more important than the flower or the butterfly.” Perhaps Carlos took this theme to heart when thinking about his teammates (or his job security).
Now, instead of knocking his coaches, Carlos is offering verbal bouquets like this: “Every game means something for us. Every game.”
Amen, hermano, amen! This is advice we should all tape to our bathroom mirror to remind ourselves, every morning, that today is another day that we’ve been given. Max out, dude. Go for broke. Do your damnedest, because you might not wake up tomorrow and get another shot.
Carlos Carrasco could end up with 10 wins, and the once-foundering Native-Americans-by-Lake-Erie could end up in the wild-card playoff game. So, gentle reader, let that be a lesson to you: channel your inner Carlos Carrasco (or Fruto Vivas, if you prefer). Take your licks and come up swinging. it’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get up. The brass ring is within your grasp–keep reaching for it.
Every game means something.
(Today’s blog dedicated to Blue the Cat. 1996-2014.)