Carrasco Finding New Role in Buffalo

BUFFALO, NY - The Mets signed D.J. Carrasco hoping that he would help out the big league bullpen. That stint did not last long and now the right-hander finds himself back in the minors for the first time in years. Not only has his location changed, but his role as well. Inside Pitch caught up with Carrasco to learn about his adjustments and what he's working on so he can return to New York.

There aren't many things a veteran baseball player sees or hears that are surprising. After a while in this game, guys tend to go through everything, in one way or another.

On April 26, Buffalo pitcher D.J. Carrasco heard something that he thought he never would; that he'd been optioned to Buffalo and would pitch in the minor leagues for the first time since 2008.

The 33-year-old righty was stunned at first, but he's realized since then that the move was for the best.

"Mentally I'm fine," Carrasco said. "At first [after being sent down] it was kind of a shock, but I needed to work on some stuff and probably the big leagues aren't the place to do that when they're trying to win. It's helped me get some things working that I've had success in the past with."

Carrasco's velocity was down in New York, where he went 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in eight appearances, and he didn't feel he had command of any of his pitches. He's used his time in Buffalo to work on the mechanical issues he ran into in the bigs.

Adding to the transition was the news that Carrasco would also be switching positions; he would move to the starting rotation from the bullpen. After three starts, Carrasco hasn't suffered any setback in terms of his arm strength.

"My arm feels great," Carrasco said. "It's been about six years since I've been a consistent starter…But I've been able to bounce back in past years and throw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. It's more about the mental approach."

Carrasco is 1-1 as a member of the Bisons, with a 5.14 ERA. He allowed five runs in his first start, three in his second, and in his most recent start he only gave up two runs against Scranton. He went five innings, allowed seven hits, but struck out nine batters in the win.

Buffalo manager Tim Teufel thinks Carrasco is progressing nicely since making the switch to starting pitcher.

"[D.J.] battled [in his last start]," Teufel said. "I wish, at times, his pitch location was better, but I think he threw a lot of effective pitches. I think the more we get him out there, the more he will have a feel of comfort and that'll help him execute his pitches."

Teufel explained that Carrasco was trying to attack the strike zone and that may have been why a few guys got the better of him in the game. Once he found the right release point, he settled in and was really hitting his spots, according to Teufel.

Carrasco is taking things a start at a time and hoping he is able to sustain the success he had against Scranton.

"I felt good … and I feel a little better every time out," Carrasco said. "The first couple [starts], I didn't have any secondary pitches. Last time out I felt I had more command of my off-speed pitches and today kind of solidified that feeling…It's been like a steady progression the past couple of weeks and I feel like I'm on track."

Making things extra confusing for Carrasco what role he will ultimately fill. He isn't sure if he'll be starting long-term or if he'll be moved back to the bullpen eventually.

"I'm still not really clear on if [starting games] is what I'm going to be doing," Carrasco said. "It was explained to me early that I'm going to come down here and get some innings so I can work on some things…I'm going to work hard at whatever they want me to do."

Carrasco is anxious to figure everything out so he can get back to New York and the big league team win games. In the meantime, he continues to work on his arm strength and the continuity of his pitches.

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