Print and Go Back ESPN.com: SweetSpot [Print without images]

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Indians' Carmona on comeback trail


Cliff Lee's replacement in the Tribe's rotation? A familiar face. Anthony Castrovince: As you might recall, just two years ago Carmona turned in one of the more surprising seasons anyone's ever seen, going from 1-10 as a rookie in 2006 to 19-8 in 2007.

Carmona's line in '06 and '07 included 290 innings and a 2.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That's fine; many pitchers can survive with a K/BB ratio slightly below 2, but that's a solid baseline.

Since 2007, Carmona's pitched 181 innings with a 0.85 K/BB ratio. Last year it was 0.83; this year it was 0.85. Not to belabor the obvious or anything, but when your K/BB ratio starts with a zero, it means you're walking more batters than you're striking out, which these days simply isn't acceptable. There was a time when that could actually work -- as recently as the 1950s, lots of good pitchers did that -- but that time is not now.

So Carmona's strikeout and walk numbers in the minors, these last couple of months, are encouraging. There's really nothing not to like, except for those five homers he gave up with Columbus. But Carmona seems to me a delicate sort of flower, who will always be just a lousy outing or a small injury from shriveling again, perhaps permanently.