What a relief: Carmona is thriving as a starter

There were few available players last year that were more unappealing to fantasy baseball owners than the young Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona. Switching between relief work and starting duties, Carmona compiled an ugly 1-10 record with a 5.42 ERA and three blown saves in a disastrous season for the 22-year-old rookie.

What a difference a year makes.

After steadily working on his fastball (it now tops out at 97 mph) to complement his hard sinkers, Carmona has proven nearly indispensable this season as the Indians’ No. 2 starter, racking up a 7-2 record with an impressive 3.17 ERA.

Carmona was slated to begin the season as a spot starter, but an injury to Cliff Lee opened up a position in the rotation and Carmona has not faltered. After getting shelled in his first start of the season (a 6-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on April 13 that surely gave Indians fans a flashback to his horrible 2006 campaign), Carmona didn’t lose a decision for the Tribe until a 3-0 loss to Florida on Tuesday, going at least six innings in his last 11 appearances, during which Cleveland has a 9-2 record.

During his personal seven-game winning streak that ended with his most recent start, Carmona allowed more than three earned runs just once and yielded less than two earned runs six times, including a four-hit shutout against the Minnesota Twins on May 17.

Carmona has exhibited displays of efficiency (he threw 105 pitches or less in six of his starts that have went beyond seven innings), along with resolve (his shutout against the Twins came on 121 pitches).

Although his stints as a closer, middle reliever and starter have proven his valuable versatility for the Indians, fantasy owners don’t have to worry aboutCarmona returning to the bullpen anytime soon.

Fitting in nicely between C.C. Sabathia and Paul Byrd (who have combined for a commendable 15-3 record themselves), Carmona has found a home in the starting rotation for the Indians, who have maintained a steady first-place lead in the tricky AL Central.

WHO’S HOT?

» Carlos Pena, 1B, Devil Rays

» Marlon Byrd, OF, Rangers

» Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox

» Delmon Young, OF, Devil Rays

» Lenny DiNardo, SP, A’s

WHO’S NOT?

» Dan Wheeler, RP, Astros

» Ramon Hernandez, C, Orioles

» Javier Vazquez, SP, White Sox

» Justin Germano, SP, Padres

» Ryan Garko, 1B, Indians


Is Carmona worthy of a keeper slot?

Share your comments below.

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