This time last year Danny Salazar was arguably a top 5 Cy Young candidate. Since the all star break last year he has been, to put it lightly, a steaming pile of donkey shit. Luckily for the Indians he came down with elbow soreness and missed the entire playoffs. Even though this left the Indians rotation shorthanded they made it to extra innings of game 7 of the World Series. Not too shabby if you ask me. If Salazar was available to start there is no doubt Tito Francona would have used him over Josh Tomlin consistently, who pitched some very good games during their run. But I am not here to bitch about the past, we are here to talk about the future.
As of today, Danny Salazar made his first appearance out of the Indians bullpen. Yes, it was an 8-0 game against the lowly Oakland A’s. Oh it gets better. Indians pitchers struck out 58 A’s hitters in a 4 game series. Ya, Ya, Ya, the A’s blow, but that’s not the point. The point is that Danny Salazar has been relegated to the Indians bullpen. Many people may not remember, but there is another member of the rotation that was relegated to the bullpen after struggling in the rotation. His name, Carlos Carrasco, a Cy Young Candidate. I still remember that experiment. They moved Carlos to the bullpen for a few months, and the dude thrived. He was awful during the regular season, and I still remember a friend getting way too pissed he made the rotation to start the year. But, moving to the pen, getting away from the windup and figuring out how to pitch one inning at a time did wonders for the guy. Carlos Carrasco is a number one starter on at least half the teams in the league, and he had to go to the bullpen to figure it out.
Now Carlos Carrasco is a supremely talented pitcher, but there is a big difference between the two. He actually is not as talented as Danny Salazar. Remember a few years ago when the Indians lost at home to the Rays in the one game wildcard? Remember who the rookie starter was for the Indians? That’s right. It was Salazar. Remember what I said earlier? Salazar already has an All-Star appearance to his name. Unlike Carrasco, Salazar has had a lot of success as a start in the league. Even though he has had success there were always thing he needed to work on. He has never been an efficient pitcher. For a while during his All-Star run he was only averaging 5 innings pitched per game. He was striking out every other batter, but also walking every third batter. The majority of those strikeouts saw three ball counts. Salazar may have had all the talent in the world, but he was never a “pitcher”. His entire career he has relied on his talent to get batters out. That may work coming up through the system, but that will only get you so far at the highest level.
What makes this move even better for the Indians is that they are adding a power arm that consistently throws in the upper 90s to undoubtedly the best bullpen in the league. This pen consists of the bets reliever in the game (Andrew Miller), a top 5 closer (Cody Allen), and a rookie who has yet to give up a run in 15 innings pitched (Nick Goody). Bryan Shaw wasn’t even mentioned and he has been a top 10 setup guy since coming over from Arizona. While Mickey Callaway takes his time working his magic with Salazar in the pen opposing teams will be scoring runs like hikers will be finding water in the Sahara desert. This team is just starting to find itself, and this move not only makes the strongest bullpen stronger, but will make the rotation stronger in the long run.