Early this season the Cleveland Indians pitching has carried this team. More so the starting pitching has been outstanding. The excellent pitching has helped to weather the loss of Danny Salazar.
The Indians are “cautiously optimistic” that Salazar has finally moved past his most recent injury. According to Tito, he has shown good intensity in his bullpen sessions. There are two things the Indians could do with Salazar, have him be a starter or put him in the bullpen. Either way, having a healthy Salazar could go a long way in the Indians pursuit of a championship.
What The Indians Will Most Likely Do
I believe that even when Salazar is ready to return to the Major League club he’ll be eased back in slowly. I expect the Indians will move him back into the starting rotation. They may go with a 6 man rotation until they pull the restrictions off of Salazar. Once he’s a full go I think he would take Josh Tomlin‘s spot. Tomlin would likely end up as a long reliever.
What The Indians Should Do
Recently baseball, more specifically playoff baseball, has become a game of dominant bullpens. When the Cleveland Indians reached the World Series in 2016 it was on the back of Terry Francona‘s masterful use of his dominant bullpen. The loss of Bryan Shaw has created a need for a bridge guy to get to Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Salazar could fill that void.
I think knowing that he’s only going to pitch an inning or two could do wonders for his psyche. He would be able to go out there and empty the tank. He wouldn’t have to worry about pacing himself.
Along with being able to pitch more aggressively, I think it would help prevent further injuries. It also allows the Indians to manage his innings easier. I don’t know if Salazar’s arm/shoulder can handle a large workload anymore.
If Salazar proves that he can be a reliable bullpen pitcher, with the way Tito uses his ‘pen, he would become a huge weapon. A back of the bullpen that consists of Salazar, Miller, and Allen would be hard for any offense to compete with.
Obviously this all hinges on what Salazar looks like after this injury. If he returns as the flame-throwing pitcher than an already good bullpen becomes a dominant one.