Carlos Carrasco spoke with confidence and clarity – so assured in his prediction that it sounded less like what he hoped would happen and more like what he knew would happen.
"We have a great team and we’re going to make it to the playoffs – even to the World Series," Carrasco said Tuesday in his Zoom news conference, his first as a Met. "That’s what my feeling is right now and just [seeing] my teammates, we’re going to do it. We’re going to make it."
It’s a bold proclamation, but Carrasco, who was traded to the Mets last week in the same deal that brought over Francisco Lindor, didn’t deviate from his path. Sure, leaving Cleveland – where he spent his entire 12-year career – was difficult, but his excitement Tuesday was palpable. He wore his hat and his No. 59 jersey. He spoke glowingly about pitching with the likes of Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, and to throwing to his old division rival, James McCann, who was the first person to text him when the trade went through. He talked to Steve Cohen, too (he even knew he was from Queens).
"I’m so happy right now," Carrasco said. "I wish spring training started this week, to meet everyone and start wearing this jersey. It’s something really important to me, just wearing this jersey."
In no short part because he seems to think this really might be a chance to get that coveted ring. Cleveland was punted from the playoffs last year after losing to the Yankees in the Wild Card. They’ve made the postseason five times in his career, but only made a deep run once, in 2016, when Carrasco was sidelined after breaking his hand on a comebacker the month before.
His belief in Lindor is unwavering – when he first saw him play, he told him, "You’re going to be a superstar" – and then there’s the unspoken fact that he’s leaving a team that’s shedding payroll for one that’s run by the richest owner in baseball.
"Every baseball player, they want a championship, they want a ring, and we were so close" in Cleveland, he said. The Mets "have really good players now with myself, Lindor, the team getting stronger and stronger and that’s why my feeling – just making it to the playoffs and the World Series."
Carrasco, who finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2019 and was 3-4 last year with a 2.91 ERA should slot in nicely behind Jacob deGrom or, if Luis Rojas chooses, third behind Marcus Stroman. Considering Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery) isn’t expected back until June, the addition of Carrasco is vital. Steven Matz struggled terribly all of 2020, and beyond that, there are further questions – Seth Lugo, who’s capable but has shown more consistency in the bullpen, and David Peterson, who's only pitched in 10 games. Of course, these are the new era Mets, so there’s a not-insignificant chance they could sign a free agent to plug the gap before the season starts.
"They’re really good," Carrasco said of the rotation. "Believe it or not, I was with Cleveland but I’ve been watching them since they went to the World Series [in 2015]…[They’re] strong with deGrom in there, Stroman, Syndergaard, all those guys in there. I’m really [looking] forward to [being a part of] that rotation."
And that was really the theme of Carrasco’s introduction. He believes that the best will happen this season – a level of optimism that has mostly been absent from the Mets in the last few years.
"We have really good players, starting pitching, relievers," he said. "I think we’re going to be fun. That’s the whole point: To make it to the playoffs and to the World Series."
For him, it might as well be a sure thing.