To celebrate Labor Day, let's send out our psychic energies and make a couple of Unsubstantiated Predictions regarding the 2016 Cy Young Award winners. Earlier today we predicted that Carlos Martinez of the St.Louis Cardinals will win the 2016 NL Cy Young Award. For the American League we'll go with another Carlos, Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians.
Carrasco has been quite solid this year, going 12-9, 3.53 in 25 starts with a 173/32 K/BB in 158 innings, allowing 135 hits. However his FIP is considerably lower at 2.81 and he's run up 4.1 fWAR. The only real glitch is a minor shoulder injury that landed him on the disabled list recently, but the trouble cleared up with rest and he's expected to rejoin the Indians starting rotation tomorrow.
If you've followed Carrasco since he was in the minors you know how frustrating he can be. At times he looks like a terrific pitcher but it took a few years for his talent to manifest as real results. Although he has not received much attention outside of Cleveland circles, Carrasco actually has broken through over the last two seasons, with a 2.67 FIP combined this year and last. His component ratios have improved dramatically, his K/IP going from 5.79 in 2013 to 9.40 last year and 9.85 this year.
My thinking here is that Carrasco will remain as effective in 2016 without much actual change on his own terms. His FIP this year ranks third in the American League (did you know that?). The difference between 2016 and 2015 will be better run support from his teammates, better luck, and a 200-inning season of good health.
Carrasco will lead the American League with 20 wins next year for a uprising Indians team that makes a run at the wild card, going 20-7, 2.38 ERA, 2.45 FIP, with 204 strikeouts, 45 walks in 219 innings. He will lead the league in wins, ERA, FIP, rank second in strikeouts and rank third among starters in fWAR. With a publicity boost due to the Tribe's playoff run, he'll edge out Sonny Gray and Collin McHugh for the Cy Young Award.
It will also be the only time in Carrasco's career that he exceeds 200 innings.
A totally unsubstantiated prediction. But is it plausible?