Cleveland Indians: Danny Salazar is Looking Like an Ace

Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Only one of the of the four starters in the Cleveland Indians rotation has ever pitched in a playoff game (five is you count Mike Clevinger, who will be making his big league debut tonight against the Reds). It isn’t Josh Tomlin, who is the longest-tenured current Cleveland Indian. It isn’t former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. It’s Danny Salazar, the 26-year-old flamethrower who is looking more and more like an ace every start. 

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Salazar, of course, started in the 2013 wild card game for the Indians after bursting onto the scene that same year, finishing with a record of 2-3 and an ERA of 3.12 in 10 starts, which led Terry Francona to try to ride that momentum to a wild card win. Now whether that was a good decision or not can be debated (the Indians lost to the Rays 4-0), but one thing was for certain during that game, Salazar looked overmatched. He didn’t look comfortable on the mound, and the stage might have been a little too big for him. This then became a trend for Salazar, as he spent parts of 2014 in the minor leagues and eventually finished 2014 with a pedestrian major league stat line, going 6-8 with a 4.25 ERA, leading some people to wonder if he was every going to reclaim that rookie year magic.

But reclaim it he did. Salazar finally started to put it all together in 2015, as he finished the year with a 14-10 record, a 3.45 ERA, and 195(!!!) strikeouts. He finally started to adjust for the major league level and looked comfortable. Salazar has done nothing but build on this success in 2016, as evident by his most recent start against the Reds on Tuesday.  Salazar went 7 1/3 innings, giving up one run and striking out eight en route to a 14-1 Indians win, and he currently is 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA and has 61 strikeouts through 50 innings.

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Ever since Carlos Carrasco went down with his injury, Salazar has looked like the ace of the staff, and his strong pitching has gone a long way to the Indians having success. Look for Salazar to keep doing big things in 2016.