There was a time Yordano Ventura was one of the main names among the promising arms of the AL Central. A few have passed him by during his struggles, one being Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco returns from the disabled list Thursday night in Cleveland as the Indians open a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals, who have been hitting plenty on their season-best winning streak.
Carrasco (2-0, 2.45 ERA) made four April starts after going 14-12 with a 3.63 ERA in a career-high 30 starts last season, then landed on the DL with a left hamstring injury.
"He's passed all his tests," manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website.
The right-hander had a so-so season debut with four runs allowed on three homers in a no-decision against Boston, but he'd limited opponents to two runs in 17 innings of the three starts leading to the injury.
Carrasco might have to be particularly efficient to get deep into this game with a limited pitch count figuring to be at 80.
After a rehab start in Double-A Akron on Saturday, he sounds confident he's ready.
"I was covering first for a double play in the first inning," Carrasco said. "In the second inning, I had another one between me and the catcher, so I had to break a little bit faster, quick, to get the ball and throw. But everything feels fine."
Carrasco won all four of his starts against Kansas City last season with a 1.55 ERA.
Ventura (4-3, 5.17) hasn't given up fewer than three runs in any of his last six starts, going 2-3 with a 7.16 ERA and 5.23 walks per nine innings. He didn't walk anyone in Saturday's 8-7 home win over the Chicago White Sox, but he gave up seven runs and nine hits in seven innings of a no-decision. It was the most unlikely of no-decisions after the Royals entered the ninth trailing 7-1.
His second start in that six-outing span was in Cleveland with the hard-throwing right-hander giving up five runs and six hits in four innings of a 7-1 loss. He hasn't made it beyond 5 1/3 innings in any of his three starts against the Indians since the start of last season for a 1-2 record and 7.53 ERA.
Nevertheless, Yan Gomes remains 1 for 16 against Ventura. Carlos Santana has a .440 on-base percentage against him (6 for 20 with two home runs, a double and five walks).
The good news for Ventura is he could have plenty of support like he did the last time out. The Royals (30-22) have won six in a row and eight of nine while never managing fewer than 10 hits. They're batting .358 in that span with Whit Merrifield hitting safely in all nine at a .381 clip. Lorenzo Cain is 10 for 21 in the last five, and Eric Hosmer is the hottest of all at 14 for 26 with 12 RBIs on the six-game streak.
The Indians (27-24) salvaged the finale of a three-game series against Texas with Wednesday's 5-4 win in 11 innings. Mike Napoli hit his fifth home run in his last nine games.
Cleveland took two of three in the teams' first series May 6-8.