QUEENS — When Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco begins hiding from Buck Showalter in the fifth or sixth innings of his starts, it’s usually a good sign.
On Wednesday night at Citi Field following a sixth inning in which he worked his way around a first-and-second jam to preserve the Mets’ 3-1 lead, Carrasco sought refuge in the bathroom — prompting his manager to find him.
“I waited til he came out,” Showalter quipped, as he made told the 36-year-old right-hander that his night was done after allowing just one run on six hits with four strikeouts and just a single walk.
“I really did,” the pitcher confirmed. “I went down to the bathroom and just tried to hide myself, but he found me… I didn’t want to come out [of the game] but I respect his decision.”
Carrasco strung together his second consecutive quality start to stabilize a turbulent 2023 season.
In his first three starts of the season, while dealing with a bone spur in his pitching elbow, Carrasco was torched for 13 runs in his first 13.2 innings pitched (8.56 ERA) before a trip to the IL lasted nearly five weeks after it was extended due to an illness.
Upon his return on May 19 against his former club in the Cleveland Guardians, he yielded another five runs in five innings, bloating his season ERA to 8.68.
Now, he’s healthy, and he’s bringing top-notch stuff to the bottom of the Mets’ rotation. Over his last two starts including Wednesday’s win that moved him to 2-2 on the season, Carrasco has allowed just one run in his last 12.1 innings pitched with eight strikeouts and three walks, lowering his season ERA to 5.74.
“My last two starts have been really good,” Carrasco said. “I continue to work on myself every day to get better and that’s why I had those results these last two games.”
The difference has been especially apparent with his putaway pitch in the split-changeup, which rung up three Phillies on Wednesday night
“When my elbow was OK, I couldn’t throw because it hurt,” Carrasco continued. ‘But now… my changeup is really good. That’s the pitch I use the most to get people out and strike them out, too.”
Granted, Showalter doesn’t need the analytics or the numbers to see that his veteran righty is getting back on track.
“You can tell his arm’s moving better. He’s throwing the ball through the target instead of through it,” Showalter said. “It’s moving freer and his tempo is better. When you’re out there and… your arm feels good, there’s an easiness about your outing. You can see it.”
The deeper he and his fellow Mets starters go, the better it bodes for the team in the win-loss column. In games in which their starting pitchers go at least six innings, New York is 15-0 — and Carrasco ensured that Wednesday was the second straight night that happened after Kodai Senga shut down Philadelphia with seven scoreless, one-hit innings and nine strikeouts in a 2-0 series-opening win.
“I saw what Senga did yesterday and I said ‘OK, let me go out there and do the same,'” Carrasco said. “Thi is the kind of pitching we just want to continue to be this way the whole season.”