Corey Kluber remains the ace of the Cleveland Indians rotation, but Carlos Carrasco is holding that title throughout the first half of the 2017 season.

As the rest of the starting staff founders, Carrasco has become the Tribe’s most consistent arm to work every five games.

Not only does the 30-year-old own the rotation’s best earned run average (3.21), he’s the only Indians starter below 4.00. Cleveland entered this season with what was believed to be one of the game’s top rotations, but that strength has wilted into a glaring weakness. Indians starters have struggled mightily in 2017 and are saddled with the American League’s third worst ERA (4.78) entering Saturday’s road date with the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

Take Carrasco’s 13 starts out of the equation, and that number bumps up to 5.12.

The Venezuelan right-hander kept it going Friday night during Cleveland’s 8-1 win over the Twins that got the Tribe back to within a game of the AL Central lead. Carrasco wasn’t exactly efficient, throwing only 56.6 percent of his 113 pitches for strikes over 6 1/3 innings, but he limited Twins hitters to just four hits, three walks and one run. The run came on a sixth-inning homer by Minnesota left fielder Eddie Rosario.

Friday’s start came as a relief to Indians fans, as well. It represented Carrasco’s second straight victory and effective outing after a rough stretch that began in mid-May.

Carrasco caught the ugh bug that’s plagued everyone else in the rotation – Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, Mike Clevinger – all of them.

Beginning with his shortest outing of the season, a 3 2/3 inning clunker against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 15, Carrasco staggered through three bad starts out of four opportunities. He surrendered 16 runs, all earned, over 21 1/3 innings and his ERA jumped from 1.86 to 3.36.

Considering how poorly other Indians starters have fared, the team needs Carrasco to be the anchor and his overall numbers are still looking ace-like. Opposing batters are hitting just .208 against Carrasco for the season and he sports an impressive 1.01 walks plus hits per inning pitched average. The batting average against stat ranks him eighth among AL starters with at least 10 starts and his WHIP is the fourth lowest.

Carrasco can’t carry the Indians on his own, but Kluber’s resurgence after spending a month on the disabled list has Cleveland trending in the right direction.

Eric Horchy is a staff writer with OutsidePitchMLB.com. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter: @EricHorchy