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News analysis: Carmona's effect on Indians

News analysis: Carmona's effect on Indians
Indians starting pitcher Fausto Carmona was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hip and is expected to be out at least four weeks.

Carmona left the team's game May 23 in the third inning when he came up hobbling after trying to make a play at first base. He was able to throw one more pitch before summoning the trainer and exiting the ballgame. The early departure snapped a streak of 32 consecutive games in which an Indians starting pitcher threw at least five innings.

Starter Jake Westbrook (rib cage) was activated from the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and replaced Carmona in the rotation. He allowed three runs on five hits in five innings against the White Sox and got a no-decision in his first start after being activated from the DL.

In other moves involving their pitching staff, the Indians purchased the contract of pitcher Scott Elarton from Triple-A Buffalo and recalled relief pitcher Edward Mujica from Buffalo. They also designated veteran reliever Jorge Julio for assignment and optioned pitcher Jensen Lewis to Triple-A.

Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said an MRI exam revealed a moderate strain of an exterior muscle in Carmona's left hip and has indicated that if everything goes well, he could start playing catch in about seven days.

Soloff said the injury is common in sports, but that it was uncommon for a pitcher. He also said Carmona shouldn't suffer from any lingering effects when he returns. His style of pitching may have contributed to the injury, which fortunately is to a muscle on the outside of the hip and not the inside. Had he sustained an injury inside of the hip joint a considerably longer recovery time may have been needed, and it may have even been career threatening.

Prior to being placed on the disabled list, Carmona, who signed a four-year contract extension in April, was 4-2, with a 3.10 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 23 strikeouts and 38 walks in 58 innings.

It's Carmona's first stint on the DL in his career, but he's expected to be out at least a month. The good news for the Tribe is that he injured his hip and not his elbow or shoulder, which are considered more serious injuries for a pitcher.

While Carmona's out, the Indians rotation is expected to look like this:

C.C. Sabathia (3-6, 4.74 ERA)
Jake Westbrook (1-2, 3.12 ERA)
Paul Byrd (2-4, 4.10 ERA)
Cliff Lee (7-1, 1.50 ERA)
Aaron Laffey (3-3, 1.59 ERA)

When Carmona returns, Laffey will likely be the odd man out in the starting rotation.

If you own Carmona in any fantasy league, be sure to stash him on your roster as he's too valuable to release. Westbrook and Laffey are your best options on the Indians to replace the Dominican native while he's out with his injury. Westbrook's the proven veteran, but is only 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA and was just activated from the DL. However, Laffey's having a solid season at 3-3 with a 1.59 ERA and has recorded 20 strikeouts and only eight walks in 39 2/3 innings.

Other fantasy options include Rockies starter Aaron Cook, who's sporting a 7-3 record, a 2.82 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with 35 strikeouts and 22 walks in 76 2/3 innings. Although he doesn't have a high strikeout rate, he's a solid option as a temporary replacement. He should be available in shallow mixed leagues.

Another alternative is Yankees pitcher Darrell Rasner, who's rattled off four quality starts since being called up in early May. He sits at 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. His strikeout numbers aren't great (14 in 25 innings), but he's in a groove on the mound. He's a prime candidate to pick up and then drop when he tails off. Like Cook, he should be out there in most mixed formats.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 30, 2008

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