The Cleveland Indians are counting on Danny Salazar to be the number two man in the rotation after Justin Masterson. Salazar started 11 games for the Indians last season, including the one game playoff against the Rays. He was 2-4 in those starts with a 3.12 ERA and struck out more than 11 hitters per nine innings.
In his ‘Offseason Stock Report’ Grantland’s Jonah Kerri writes about Salazar. He’s a fan.
It’s tough to remember another season in which so many incredibly talented pitchers will get their first crack at full big-league seasons with so much at stake. I, for one, am hopping on the bandwagon early for #TeamDannySalazar. The 24-year-old righty has three excellent pitches in his holster, with a 96 mph fastball, a nasty slider, and a backbreaking changeup that all generate lots of swings and misses. He missed more and more bats as he climbed the ladder in the minor leagues, and he dominated in his 10-start major league debut last year, fanning more than four batters for every walk.
Moreover, betting on Salazar reflects his raw talent and strong recent track record more than those 10 starts, whereas Jimenez seemed to resurrect his career thanks almost entirely to his second-half performance. With Jimenez in Baltimore and Scott Kazmir in Oakland, the Tribe needs big results from its under-30 arms. Salazar is my pick to outshine his peers, give the Indians another shot at contending, and maybe even tiptoe into some Cy Young discussions.
The Indians have stockpiled veterans for spring training to provide competition for the back end of the rotation. If Salazar suffers through a ‘sophomore slump’ the Indians could have a tough uphill climb in the AL Central.
[Related: Jimenez deal makes more sense for Orioles]