righthander Fausto Carmona has bounced back from his debacle as a closer to
dominate in the rotation
A YEAR AGO
Indians righthander Fausto Carmona was a failure of historic proportions,
becoming just the second major league pitcher to lose four games in relief in a
span of seven days. During that stretch in July and August, he blew saves in
three consecutive ninth-inning appearances. But recast this season as a
starter, Carmona has emerged as a surprise candidate for the AL Cy Young
Armed with a
strong work ethic; a dynamic, mid-90s sinking fastball; and a newfound ability
to slow down the game, Carmona, 23, was tied for fourth in the AL with 13 wins
and had a 3.26 ERA through Sunday. After outdueling Red Sox righthander Josh
Beckett and shutting down arguably the league's top lineup for a 1--0 win last
month, Carmona followed his typical postgame routine, hitting the weight room
to improve his shoulder strength and stamina. With Indians first base coach
Luis Rivera acting as his interpreter, Carmona, who is from the Dominican
Republic, said of his extensive workout regimen, "This is fun for me. I do
it with joy."
nature and relish for hard work helped Carmona respond to his disastrous stint
as a closer. He embraced winter ball and enhanced his repertoire, adding a
superb change-up and a fine slider to go with his calling card, a two-seam
sinker. "He never doubted himself," says Indians general manager Mark
Shapiro. "He just kept stressing that he will get it straightened
only made the team this season because starting pitcher Cliff Lee went on the
DL with a strained abdominal muscle. He lasted 4 1/3 innings in his first
outing but bounced back to win two starts in April. After spending a week at
Triple A Buffalo, Carmona was recalled six days later when righthander Jake
Westbrook also strained an abdominal muscle. Carmona went on to win five times
in May, and he and lefty C.C. Sabathia became the first pair of Indians
pitchers to win 10 games before the All-Star break since Early Wynn and Bob
Lemon did it in 1956.
Although he was
5--1 in July and has a 1.70 ERA in his last five starts, Carmona has remained
largely unrecognized. "He's got good stuff. I'd been telling people that,
and they were looking at me like I was crazy," Tigers center-fielder Curtis
Granderson says. "I mentioned in my blog at mid-season that he should be in
Cy Young consideration. Everybody was like, 'I agree with all your other picks.
But this Fausto Carmona pick, you must be doing it as a favor.'"
beat Minnesota ace Johan Santana in consecutive starts earlier this year, Twins
centerfielder Torii Hunter said that he felt like he was "hungover"
trying to hit Carmona's sinking fastball. He added that he was grateful to be
going next to Milwaukee to face "normal pitchers."
Carmona, who has
helped put the Indians in position to win their first division title in six
years, knows his work is not done, though. Says Shapiro, "He's never
satisfied being good. He wants to be great."
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