Indians

The return of the Salazar: Bode Plots

No Cleveland Indians team of my lifetime compares with what this Tribe team could become in 2017. The hyperbolic statement was my initial reaction to the Indians first three-game sweep of an opponent to start a season since 1952.1 While the current set of players has much more to prove before they can rightfully stake their prowess against the 1994 and 1995 ballclubs, the combination of starting pitching, bullpen, defense, and hitting has created a team who can morph as the situation dictates.

On Wednesday, a three-run gaffe in the fifth inning meant the Tribe needed runs and lots of them. Trailing by two against the closer of the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning, the floodgates opened. Yandy Diaz and Tyler Naquin singled. Abraham Almonte and Carlos Santana walked. So, Francisco Lindor stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and quickly plated four of the five runs scored as the Indians won, 9-6, after Bryan Shaw set the Rangers down in the bottom half of the frame 1-2-3.2

The other big news of the night was the return of Danny Salazar. After missing most of the second half in 2016, he had shown a renewed propensity for striking out batters throughout Spring Training. But, it is difficult to discern reality from mirage in the desert games. Salazar left no room for doubting against the Rangers as he struck out nine in less than six innings pitched.

Salazar’s overall line for the game was not impressive (5.2 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 9 SO, 1 HR), but two of the four earned runs were due to poor scorekeeping. In the fifth inning, Salazar rightfully ended the inning with any damage being done when he induced a ground ball from Shin-Soo Choo to Lindor. Lindor turned to complete the last out to second base, but Jose Ramirez did not cover the bag. After losing the race to second to Joey Gallo, Lindor fired a bullet towards first base to attempt to achieve the final out there, but Edwin Encarnacion was not ready to receive it as it flew past his glove and into the camera bay. Two runs scored on that play alone with Choo scoring on the next batter. How any of those three runs were considered earned is as much of a mystery as why Delino Deshields thought he could catch up to Salazar’s fastball up out of the zone (first batter and first strikeout of the game).

2016 Profile of Salazar

via Brooksbaseball.net

Before his arm started giving him issues in June, Salazar had a specific profile that matched up with how he had garnered success previously as well. His blazing 96 mile per hour four-seam fastball was his bread and butter, and Salazar threw it 50% of the time. He mixed in a two-seam sinker, and occasional slider or curveball to throw hitters off the scent of the pitch he wanted to throw; his closing split-change (25% whiff rate).

Salazar set everything up with his fourseamer, which he tended to keep up in the zone, while everything else in his repetoire sat in the lower quadrants.

Game 3 Salazar

via Brooksbaseball.net

The chart above breaks the previously held profile of Salazar. Of the 102 pitches he threw, only two of them were four-seam fastballs (with increased velocity of 98 miles per hour). Instead, Salazar relied on an almost even split between his 96 mile per hour sinker and 87 mile per hour change.

On the home run given up to Nomar Mazara in the first inning, Salazar seemed to miss his location as he threw a sinker that stayed up in the zone over the middle of the plate and was punished for it. However, Salazar did not shy away from throwing the sinker throughout all quadrants. He was not afraid to throw his change everywhere either though he attempted to keep his curveball and slider off the plate.

For the game, Salazar registered an impressive 21 whiffs. 10 off his sinker (19.2% whiff rate), nine off his change (21.4%), one off his fourseamer (50%), and another off his curve (33%).

Last word

Salazar finished Wednesday with 14 three true outcomes (nine strikeouts, four walks, one home run). His outing was reminiscent of his 2016 performances in that way though he did so through a new pitching repertoire. Whether the adjustment is temporary or permanent is to be determined. For now, we’ll just keep watching.

  1. Hat-tip to Tom Hamilton who repeated this trivia many times throughout the broadcast. []
  2. Two home runs for Frankie in the game. []

  • Hopwin

    Is it safe to assume that Danny skimped on the fastball because Texans love to turn those into souvenirs down there? Or do you think this is an indication of a new pitch profile?

  • NankirPhelge

    I wonder if there’s a Fantasy league out there called something like Rounding Nerd and Heading Home in which the stat categories are BABIP, wOBA, zWAR, pfx HMov (in.), and V-Break × FiP2 ± Ω/π.

  • mgbode

    He throws his 2s just as fast as his 4s and has had issues w/ keeping them in the park in the past. He was more sinker heavy in ST, so it feels like a new profile, but…

    Lots of possibilities
    -New profile he worked on over the offseason (shown in ST a bit)
    -Bauer went to 2s heavy in 2016 to help with his command (get ahead in counts)
    -Could 2s be easier on his arm than 4s???
    -Team or park specific (I haven’t broken down TX hitters 4s vs 2s history)
    -Just how the game and the counts happened to go last night

  • mgbode

    Glad you enjoyed it, but I would never, ever, ever divide Omega by Pi.

  • jpftribe

    Bode at his best.

    This just makes a ton of sense. They don’t need Salazar to be an ace, they need him to be a quality No. 3. If he has the stuff to do that with two pitches, which also happen to be the least stressful pitches in his quiver, than why not? 96mph sinker and 87 CH that you can locate anywhere is high quality stuff.

    Lindor’s reaction also makes a lot more sense. A plan like this should induce more ground balls and they need to play stellar defense behind him.

    Lot to like about this club right now.

  • mgbode

    Thank you. Agree with you and if Salazar can continue to work on either his curve or slider so that he has that ready for the postseason (for team-specific usage like Toronto last October), then all the better.

    Just as important: Andre Knott reported that Lindor did not smile after his solo shot. Not on the home run, not when people were congratulating him in the dugout. He was smoking about the way the fifth inning went. I love angry Frankie.

  • Garry_Owen

    Great summary and analysis, Bode.

    On the negative side, this team is going to cause me to lose so much sleep. Every game that they play out of the Eastern time zone is going to force me to stay up late, as I now obviously cannot retire early and just catch up with the game’s events the next day, regardless of how many runs down we might be.

    On pace for 162-0!

  • Natedawg86

    EE better be ready now. Don’t know how that was an error on Lindor. Should have still had an out at first

  • mgbode

    Lindor made the mental error trying to get the force at second once J-Ram didn’t cover, then EE certainly should have been given an E-3 on the throw. It was a cluster all around for the scorekeep who must have been occupied with a Boomstick that inning.

  • jpftribe

    That’s what you have to love about Lindor’s reaction. Whether it was intentional or not, and I doubt it was, Jose and EE got the message.

  • NankirPhelge

    How about 2eGGs/EZ?

  • mgbode

    Thank you sir. I prefer the CST starts because it lets me get home in time, but the PST games are going to be crazy for that exact reason. Oh, the Indians are down three runs in the 7th, so I’ll put it at 60-40 they come back this time 😉

    Then again, if we are up one run on days when SLAM is pitching (Shaw Logan Allen Miller), then we can all retire early unless we need to watch the fun. Dangit, we need to watch the fun.

    (I did not invent SLAM — Will Gage of IndiansonScout did)

  • Garry_Owen

    Is it wrong that I’m ever so slightly disappointed at how good this team appears to be? I mean, I’m really getting too old for late night baseball watching.

  • scripty

    A few notes:
    We are extremely lucky Encarnocion didnt take that throw from Lindor off the face. He was so unprepared.
    I can never tell if Salazar is nibblibg too much or his stuff is very filthy. If it’s as good as it supposed to be he needs to nibble a tiny bit less.
    I thought it was a great start until the Lindor play. He kept the pitch count down.

  • scripty

    Hard to tell, Hamels really moved the ball around well and used his FB very well early. Interesting to see the savvy pitchers add new things to their styles early on.

  • scripty

    that one close up of him after his solo HR, he looked ready to kill somebody with lasers out of his eye sockets, like when Tony Montana thought people were hitting on his sister

  • scripty

    Did you see the still of where JRAM was before the play, I think JRAM isnt to blame at all. Frankie just had a brain fart (compounded by EE). JRAM would of needed a rocket up his butt to get to 2nd for the force, especially given they werent holding the runner much

  • nj0
  • mgbode

    Naw, it just all changes with POV. I used to fall asleep on my alarm clock radio with the sound super low so my parents wouldn’t know I was listening to Herb Score call games in Oakland and such. Those morning lines on my cheek were the worst.

  • mgbode

    I did not but good to know. Thanks.

  • mgbode

    anyone who has doubted his competitiveness (and I have seen such suggestions) lost that debate right there.

  • mgbode

    Two Easy Gold Gloves for Frankie

  • mgbode

    Chief Wahoo is looking right at her with a *&$!-eating grin on his face.

  • woofersus

    I sort of thought it should have been two errors. Given how far away Ramirez was from 2nd, Lindor should have just thrown to first right away. He thought he could just cover the bag himself, but misjudged the speed of the runner. When he did fire to first, he had just crossed in front of the runner out of EE’s view, and it was a pretty quick release. I wouldn’t be surprised if from where he stood it was pretty tough to see Lindor’s arm whip around and pick up the ball out of his hand. Still, should have caught it. I think he should have been charged with an error as well.

  • woofersus

    Lindor and J-Ram haven’t played together in the middle infield that much yet, so I can understand why they might not have the best feel for what each other will do in certain situations, but you’re correct that on replay it looked like Ramirez broke toward the base pretty quickly when the ball was hit. He backed off when Lindor sped up toward the bag. I don’t know if Ramirez could have gotten to the bag from his spot in time to cover even if they had played it perfectly as he was basically dead center between 1st and 2nd at the moment the ball was hit. Perhaps a positioning error, although I don’t know what the plan was for that hitter. They were both pretty far from 2nd.

  • scripty

    With some of the modern defensive alignments, that ball hit to Lindor is no longer a force out at 2nd. Gotta just gone him out at first. There was a remote chance JRAM gets there but I felt at best it was quite unlikely. When the ball was hit he was back on the grass further from the bag than Lindor.

  • woofersus

    I wonder if the intent is to develop more separation in velocity between the 4-seamer and sinker. I would imagine the general goal of any new profile would be to help prevent arm issues, as it’s not like he was ineffective in the first half of last season. Perhaps they want to limit the number of times he needs to throw the curve or slider in a given start to a handful, but Kluber pretty effectively uses his 4-seam and 2-seam as very different pitches.

  • yep I attained progress to obtain Ninty Eight Thousand Five Hundred and Sixty Seven bucks.I heard of this work 6 months past and a couple of months prior I surely checked out and I have made such a wonderful payment. It is hugely helpful for me personally and also my household.My relatives and friends are skeptical to look at how I settled my Lifestyle in few days. Thank you GOD for it….You surely can obtain similar number of wealth, if you have a laptop or pc and internet access at your residence. different complex information are not needed to work on this work. I’m Loving it and you will surely love it and also you will not pardon yourself if you not visit the facts >>>>>> http://gochiurl.com/15cf7

  • Elizabethrcampbell

    Google is paying $97 per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !wr249c:
    On monday I got a great new mclaren f1 from having earned $12778 this last four weeks.. 3 to 5 hours of work a day… Weekly paychecks… Bonus opportunities…Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    !wr249c:
    ➽➽
    ➽➽➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs249SocialWork/GetPaid$97/Hour ★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫:::!wr249u:……