Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.
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No. 36, Matt Carasiti: -0.2 rWAR
Everyone loves the return of an old friend. Seven years ago, Matt Carasiti was a rising bullpen prospect in the Rockies organization, earning minor league honors and cracking up teammates along the way. The sixth round pick in the 2012 draft revitalized his career when he shifted to the bullpen. He managed to well enough perform for Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque that, when the time came for a call-up, Carasiti was a natural choice. Alas, that 2016 season did not go well: 19 games, 15-2/3 innings, 9.19 ERA and 2.298 WHIP. BUT, as I pointed out in his last appearance in this series, he did post a 9.8 K/9, showing some promise from his minor league campaign. A Matt Carasiti-type, deployed correctly, could prove to be a valuable asset in a bullpen for a team rising toward a competitive window.
So, of course, the Rockies traded him for bullpen help for the 2017 stretch run.
It was quite the circuitous route back to the mound at Coors Field for Carasiti. After a half a season in the Cubs organization, he signed on to play in the Nippon League in 2018. He came back stateside in 2019 and eventually back to the majors with the Mariners. He was released after the season and ended up in camp with the Giants in 2020 before Tommy John surgery cost him the chance to earn a roster spot. So, like many of us, Matt Carasiti spent 2020 recovering.
At this point, it’s important to remember that Tommy John surgery is no guarantee. Plenty of players have either failed to recover or not come back the same. The fact that Carasiti managed to get back at all is worth celebrating. That he bounced from the Red Sox organization, to the Giants organization, to the Long Island Ducks over the course of two years speaks to his determination to recover and display that talent many of us saw.
So when he re-signed with the Rockies this last offseason, it was a lifeline from the organization that invested and believed in him most. And, by golly, he did as much as he could. When injuries began ravaging the pitching corps, Carasiti was there to step in and reward that faith. He gave the team 24-1/3 innings, mostly in the dog days of May and June, of 6.29 ERA, though that shiny strikeout rate of seven years ago abandoned him, posting a below-average 6 K/9.
The road likely has come to an end for Matt, at least with the Rockies. Facing a roster crunch, the Rockies outrighted him off the 40-man roster earlier this month and he elected free agency. But in a lost season, the Rockies habit of relying on known entities gave Matt Carasiti a puncher’s chance of making his mark in the big leagues.