Carmona's first season with the Tribe seemed to be typical Tribe management with their pitching staff in the 2000's. Carmona's first appearance was as a starter in 2006, replacing an injured CC Sabathia. He would win the game, but struggle in his next two starts before getting sent down with the return of Sabathia. Carmona would return in late May as a relief pitcher, and over 28 1/3 innings, would only give up four runs, three of them earned. That's when the Indians made him their closer, and poof, it was all gone. Over the next four games, he would give up 11 runs, losing all four games, and blowing three saves. I could keep going, but it just keeps getting worse. Carmona had gone from the 2003 minor league pitcher of the year, to limbo.
Then came 2007. The numbers? Carmona went 19-8, with a 3.06 ERA. In 215 innings, Carmona would strike out 137, and walk only 61 batters. He beat Johan Santana twice in a month and had a streak of 22 shutout innings. After the break, Carmona went 9-4 with a league leading 2.26 ERA. Torii Hunter commented that Carmona's pitches weren't "normal," and "He's not even human. It was so scary, I thought I was hung over. That dude is filthy," Hunter said. "We've been struggling, but even if we had been playing good, we wouldn't have beaten him. If you've never played the game, listen to me, I'm a hitter. Right-handers have no chance unless they get lucky and get a hit on a broken bat."
Still, after that sublime season, what Carmona will best be remembered for was his performance in the ALDS against the Yankees. The two teams were swarmed with midges, and the seemingly unbeatable Joba Chamberlain was on the mound for the Yankees. Unfortunately for Chamberlain, he couldn't focus with the midges flying around him. The Tribe would tie the game 1-1 with Chamberlain on the mound, then win the game in extra innings. Alls Carmona did was go nine innings, giving up three hits and a run, while striking out five, and walking only two batters. Oh yeah, and he defeated the evil midges.
Now we could sit here and chat about Carmona's struggles against Boston, and how he went downhill in 2008 and 2009, but for one big season, Carmona wasn't just good, but he may have been the best pitcher in baseball. Overall, Carmona went 33-37, with a 4.69 ERA during the decade, which lets you know just how good that 2007 season was. It overcame a 1-10 season, and an 11-game losing streak, as well as a season in which is ERA was nearly 7.
It's good to know that Carmona has righted the ship somewhat, in the second decade of the century. Let's hope that continues.