Cleveland Indians: Danny Salazar to be Left Off ALDS Roster

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Aug 23, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar (31) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at the Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar (31) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at the Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cleveland Indians announced that pitcher Danny Salazar would not be on the ALDS roster. How does his absence affect the team?

The Cleveland Indians have a number of decisions to make between now and Thursday morning when the official roster for the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox will be announced. One decision that was already made, though, is that Danny Salazar’s name will not be among those who will be suiting up.

After Tuesday’s workout at Progressive Field, Cleveland manager Terry Francona told reporters that Salazar would not be on the ALDS roster, and would instead be heading to the club’s player development complex in Goodyear, Arizona to continue to rehab from a strained right forearm.

“He’s not ready to pitch in a game,” Francona said. “He’s making significant progress, and we think that there’s a possibility that a game might not be too far off in the horizon.”

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The 26-year old right-hander has not pitched in a game since exiting his start on September 9th against the Minnesota Twins after just four innings. The injury marked the end of a bizarre regular season for Salazar, who made his first all-star team but managed to win only once in the second half, posting a 7.44 earned run average in eight starts and yielding a .321/.395/.533 opponents’ slash line.

Salazar has thrown several bullpen sessions over the past few weeks in an attempt to get back to the point where he could help the team in the postseason. It was believed he had a chance to make the ALDS roster as a bullpen weapon, utilizing his mid-90s fastball and plus changeup in short bursts.

“Danny wasn’t ready to go and impact our team for the first series,” said Chris Antonetti, the Indians’ president of baseball operations. “But that does not mean that he won’t have a chance to impact our team if we move on. Right now, he’ll continue on a throwing program, try to build up his arm strength, feel completely healthy, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

This development now opens up a spot in the bullpen for the Tribe. After the big four of Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, and Dan Otero, how Francona will decide to comprise his relief corps is one of the major questions heading into the matchup with Boston.

Rookie Mike Clevinger is likely to be used in much the same way that Salazar would have been, and Kyle Crockett seems a good bet to make the roster as the only left-handed option beyond Miller. Depending upon how many relievers the Indians decide to carry, Zach McAllister, Jeff Manship, Shawn Armstrong, Perci Garner, and perhaps Ryan Merritt or Adam Plutko could round out the bullpen.

How many relievers Francona decides to carry may well hinge on another tough decision: whether or not to carry three catchers (https://believelandball.com/2016/10/04/cleveland-indians-decision-catchers-postseason-roster/). The return of Yan Gomes in the final series of the regular season against the Kansas City Royals, along with the presence of Roberto Perez and Chris Gimenez, gives Cleveland three options behind the plate.

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These questions will be answered on Thursday morning, and if the Indians advance to the ALCS, Salazar’s status will again require consideration. The Tribe has dealt with injuries and adversity all season long, and Francona’s ability to juggle his roster and extract maximum value from his players is a major reason the club is in a position to be making these decisions at all.

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