How many times is a trade won or lost?
No trade, let alone one that involves freshly drafted prospects and decade-long contract extensions, can be conclusively judged in the moment. A proper evaluation takes years, typically coming well after it would be useful. In the meantime, there are days you feel good about the trade and days you don’t, and you want the former to outnumber the latter as much as possible.
On Thursday, the Mets felt as good about their trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco as they have since they made it, 469 days ago.
New York closed out an impressive series win over the Giants, 6-2, thanks to Carrasco on the mound and Lindor at the plate. The Mets have won each of their first four series, including a pair of four-gamers, and they became the first team to 10 wins on Thursday afternoon.
“We played really good baseball these last three days,” said Mark Canha, who delivered one of the key hits with a two-out, two-run single in the third. “We’ve got to play more.”
The biggest news emerging from Thursday, maybe the biggest news emerging from the first 14 games of the season, is the performance of Carrasco. Last season was unkind to many Mets, but few had the kind of lost season that Carrasco did. A hamstring injury postponed his debut with the team until the final days of July, and even then he was rushed through a rehab assignment, building his innings back while in the major leagues. The results were not pretty, and an offseason elbow surgery further clarified what kind of soreness he was working through.
Through three starts in 2022, Carrasco has resembled the frontline pitcher he was over his last seven seasons with Cleveland. A healthy elbow means he can lean far more on his offspeed and breaking pitches this season compared to last. So, against a Giants offense that had ambushed early fastballs from Tylor Megill and Chris Bassitt earlier in the series, the right-hander threw a fastball just a third of the time on Thursday, instead flummoxing with his slider and split-change.
Carrasco rarely looked comfortable with that slider in 2021, and thus it’s no surprise he threw it less and less as the season went on. He’s throwing it this year as much as ever — just under 32 percent of the time.