Demotion of Danny Salazar leaves three pitchers competing for final spot in Cleveland Indians’ rotation

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After a disastrous performance in Thursday afternoon’s loss to the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Indians have demoted struggling pitcher Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus. 

The hard-throwing righty is 1-2 with a 8.18 ERA in four starts this spring, allowing 14 hits and 10 earned runs in just 11 innings of work. He has struck out 15 and walked five, but has struggled mightily with command. Opponents have hit .304 against him, due in large part to the fact he has fallen behind batters all month.

According Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com, pitching coach Mickey Callaway had this to say:

"We want him to solidify his routines like Kluber and Carrasco have and learn how to become a major leaguer. When you’re a young kid, it’s hard to realize that. You have to grow up before you start to value those things."

Salazar is the latest casualty in the Tribe’s ongoing rotation competition, leaving Zach McAllister, T.J. House and Josh Tomlin to compete for the final two spots.

-McAllister is 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA in five appearances for the Tribe. He is out of minor league options, so the 6-feet-6-inch right-hander is guaranteed a spot on the roster. If he can’t crack the rotation, McAllister will be an option out of the bullpen in long relief.

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

-House was off to a strong start this spring before faltering a little bit last week. He is 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in five games for the Tribe, throwing 17.2 innings and striking out 15. House came out of no where last season to produce out of the fifth spot in the rotation. He was 5-3 with a 3.35 ERA over 18 starts and 102 innings. Of the three remaining pitchers, House seems most likely to earn a spot on the bump every five days.

-Tomlin missed time early this spring with a sore shoulder, but has appeared in three Cactus League games. He is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA over eight innings pitched. In his first full season since Tommy John, Tomlin was extremely productive in the first month of last season, winning three of his first five games and posting a 3.04 ERA. He tired quickly, though, and won just three more games the rest of the season before finding himself in the bullpen full-time in August. 

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According to Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer, McAllister belongs in the rotation. He does have doubts, however, writing:

"Until he develops a second pitch to go with his fastball, I wonder if he can be a successful long-term starter. But in April, where there are times when the Indians only need four starters (because of rainouts and off-days), McAllister could be a short-term answer. He can make the spot starts, and then help out in the bullpen."

If that proves true, expect McAllister to pick up the starts out of the fifth spot until Salazar proves he can command his pitches and be effective at the next level. McAllister is a valuable short-term option, but Terry Francona has to know the future is brighter with Salazar in the mix.

By season’s end, it will be Salazar — not McAllister or Tomlin — manning the back end of the rotation.

Next: The Tribe's 'buzzer beaters' since 2000

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