Sep 23, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Scott Carroll (67) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
If you initially look at the 2014 stat line of Chicago White Sox pitcher Scott Carroll in what was his first experience in the majors after nearly a decade in the minors, you would think he was just happy to make it to that level.
Who wouldn’t be?
There were some good moments for Carroll, such as his MLB debut on April 27 against the Tampa Bay Rays in Chicago at US Cellular Field. He was the winning pitcher of that game, where he pitched 7.1 innings, allowing one earned run off six hits and two walks.
Apr 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Scott Carroll throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
That winning performance also got him and his family members a free dinner from then-White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn.
From there, Carroll pitched six innings against the Cleveland Indians on May 3, and though he was charged with the loss, he allowed no earned runs on five hits and one walk. The two runs scored in his second start, but both were unearned.
After that, reality set in … Carroll allowed 17 earned runs in his next three combined starts, and the roller-coaster ride of being in the big leagues began for the then 29-year-old rookie.
In his 26 total games (19 starts), Carroll went 5-10 with a 4.80 ERA in what added up to 129.1 innings pitched. Opponents batted .289 against him, as he allowed 147 hits and 81 total runs (69 earned).
Carroll finished the ’14 season with 64 strikeouts and a WAR (wins above replacement) of -0.4.
As a starter in ’14, Carroll was 4-10 with a 5.40 ERA in the aforementioned 19 starts. In a relief role, he had seven appearances where he was 1-0 with a 1.99 ERA (22.2 IP). As a reliever, he held opponents to a .208 batting average, though as a starter they had an average of .303.
He also pitched in four games this season in Triple-A with the Charlotte Knights. In that time frame, he was 3-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings.
I like Carroll in one of two roles … either as the fifth starter in the starting rotation, and let him continue to learn the MLB style of hitters, or as a reliever. If I were to choose just one, I think he’s perfect out of the bullpen, and his 1.99 ERA says that as well.
Carroll could really help improve the bullpen that struggled mightily in ’14, and I believe it is his best way to stay on the big league roster.
In ’14, the right-handed pitcher, Carroll allowed two home runs to batters who swung at the first pitch of an at-bat, but 11 home runs to those who took the first pitch.
One aspect of his game that needs some fine tuning is his ability to keep the ball on the ground, instead of allowing hitters to get the ball in the air and out of the ball park.
With RISP (runners in scoring position), Carroll allowed 34 hits, including nine doubles, one triple and three home runs, along with 14 walks. All of that equaled 52 runs in 134 at-bats (156 plate appearances).
As this video shows (see below), Carroll has the ability to be very productive out of the bullpen, striking out five on Sept. 28 against the Kansas City Royals, a team who is currently in the ALCS.
For the most part, I enjoyed watching Carroll pitch this season … sure, there were a couple bumps, but that can be said for any pitcher, especially one who is in the majors for the first time.
I believe the White Sox will give him the opportunity to make the Opening Day roster this spring training, and he should and hopefully will make the most of the opportunity.
Thoughts on the ’14 debut season of Carroll?