Carmona settling into nice groove since return

Carmona settling into nice groove since return

CHICAGO -- Fausto Carmona began this season as the Indians' Opening Day starter for a reason. The Tribe was counting on him to be the rotation's ace, as well as a workhorse capable of providing stability within a young starting staff.

Over the past month, Carmona has looked every bit the leader Cleveland hoped he would be this season. The problem is that his recent stretch of strong performances has followed a series of outings that can only be described as enigmatic.

The Tribe is hoping Carmona has turned a corner.

"It's been very important for our ballclub," Acta said of Carmona's improvement. "You really want to have five guys that can give you a chance every five days. He's a guy who did that for us last year, but he was inconsistent in the first half. He had some good moments and bad moments.

"It's been pretty important for us, because he's a guy that coming into this year, and looking at our rotation, he's one of those guys that we're counting on."

Over his past six starts -- dating back to Carmona's return from the 15-day disabled list on July 18 after a bout with a right quadriceps injury -- the sinkerballer has gone 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA. Over 41 innings during that span, Carmona has limited hitters to a .222 average.

In Carmona's previous 10 turns, the right-hander went 1-7 with a 7.69 ERA and a .306 opponents' batting average across 52 2/3 innings.

Acta said the biggest difference has been Carmona's pitch distribution. Earlier this season, Carmona was relying too heavily on his slider in critical situations. Acta noted that the pitcher has gone back to using his signature sinker more often, which has helped lead to better results.

"He's a sinkerballer," Acta said. "He's a guy that shouldn't be allowing as many home runs [19] as he has so far this year. A lot of them early in the year came on offspeed stuff. When he's as dominant as he can be, he relies a lot on that power sinker and just mixes the offspeed stuff here and there to keep guys off of it."

Asked why Carmona turned away from his sinker earlier in the year, Acta did not have a clear answer.

"I'm not so sure," Acta said. "There are times that guys might get hit here and there and they lose confidence and they start trying to make adjustments, where you probably don't need to make any adjustments. There are times when you're going to get hit. That's it. Period. No one is going to be perfect."