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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Is Carlos Carrasco an every-week starter?

Remember when we were led to believe Jason Knapp was the key to the Cliff Lee trade with Philadelphia in 2009?

Regardless of your feelings about the deal, the facts as we know them thus far are ...

-- Knapp is out for the season following shoulder surgery, his second shoulder operation since the trade.

-- Catcher Lou Marson, also a part of the deal, is batting .235 with no home runs and seven RBI for the Tribe.

-- Infielder Jason Donald, the third of four players the Indians received for Lee and Ben Francisco (currently batting .222 with six homers and 26 RBI for the Phillies), is playing for Triple-A Columbus.

That leaves Carlos Carrasco as possibly the only hope from that trade for the Indians, and fortunately for them, he's pitching like an ace. He's no Cliff Lee, but he's pretty darn good.

How good, you ask? Must-start good? (Fantasy baseball is, after all, why you're here. Or is it just the witty banter?)

Let's break it down.

-- Overall, Carrasco is 7-3 with a 3.87 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 79 innings this season.

-- Since May 17, he is 6-1 in his last seven starts. In that 45-inning span, he has a 2.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10 walks and 29 Ks.

-- He's allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last seven contests.

-- In his last three games, he's 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 17 Ks in 22 2/3 innings. He has given up one run in that stretch.

Carrasco doesn't have the strikeout average (5.6 per nine innings) you would like from a top-flight fantasy starter, but he is making up for it in almost every other area.

His minor-league track record suggests he will improve in that area (he had a norm of 8.0 Ks per nine innings down on the farm), and he wins. In 31 starts for Class AAA Columbus in 2009 and '10, Carrasco was a combined 16-7 with 169 Ks in 192 2/3 innings.

I wouldn't consider him a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a deeper mixed league, but the numbers are impossible to ignore.

Start him. Lou Marson, he is not.

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