Mets' Luis Rojas offers praise for Carlos Carrasco: 'Cookie is exactly what we need at this point'

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Carlos Carrasco wearing Mets jacket in dugout smirk on his face
Carlos Carrasco wearing Mets jacket in dugout smirk on his face

Carlos Carrasco’s night against the Miami Marlins on Thursday didn’t get off to a great start.

One pitch, one Miguel Rojas solo home run, 1-0 Marlins.

Carrasco allowed his second run of the night later in the inning before he recorded an out, and it looked like a potentially long night for the Mets' bullpen was in store.

But the veteran bounced back, as he’s done now on multiple occasions with the Mets, retiring 14 of the next 15 hitters to allow the Mets to climb back into the game, a contest they ultimately won 4-3.

Despite two earned runs on three hits before recording an out, Carrasco gave the Mets 5.1 innings of three-run ball, striking out five and walking one in a start the Mets needed before hitting the road.

“Cookie’s stuff is special. … The stuff is just tremendous,” Luis Rojas said afterwards. “Everything, the changeup, the slider. The changeup is elite against both righties and lefties and then the fastball just plays everywhere I think.

“He has natural movement. He can cut the ball. He probably has no idea when it cuts, and the ball sinks too and I don’t know if he’s trying to sink it. He’s just one of those tough pitchers that has that late movement that will just mess up a hitter. You’ll commit to a pitch and then the next thing you know the pitch is running away from you and you either hit it off the end or you get fisted.”

Tuesday’s start wasn’t the first time Carrasco has run into trouble in the first inning this season. In fact, it wasn’t even the first time he allowed a home run on the first pitch he’s thrown, as he also did in his season debut against the Cincinnati Reds.

Still, despite some rocky beginnings, Carrasco has been able to find his groove as he works deeper into games.

“The first inning is a funny thing with him. It’s happened to him a couple times, but you see him getting better as the games go on,” Rojas said. “But I think his repertoire, the secondary pitches play a big role as the game goes and he starts feeling better and better and seeing some of the swings and the guys off balance.”

“On the first pitch, there’s nothing I can do about that,” added Carrasco. “I’m pretty sure he was looking for a fastball and he got it right there.

“I don’t know, man. It’s part of the game and that’s what happened, but I got a little surprised on the first pitch with the homer right there.”

After tearing his hamstring in spring training, Carrasco began a lengthy road of recovery back to being on a big league mound. He’s had to shake off some rust, but he’s starting to show why the Mets acquired him this offseason, giving the team reliable innings down the stretch at a time when every game matters.

“Cookie is exactly what we need at this point, to get quality starts and connect with the other pitchers who can give us quality starts,” Rojas said. “Missing [Jacob deGrom] right now, Cookie’s come in handy. So, I’m glad that he’s stretched out at this point and can give us the length that we need to give the ball to the bullpen and win some games.”