Recently, our very own Mason Lawlor published an article in which he implores the Tribe to move on from the injury-plagued Danny Salazar. He makes some good arguments: Salazar’s contract, the breadth of starting pitching talent within the organization and his incredibly bad injury history.
However, Salazar still has a vital role he could be playing on this team and it would be a large mistake for the team to completely move on from him.
It’s no secret that Salazar packs some heat behind his pitches. He can touch the late 90s (when healthy) without breaking a sweat. He has some nice movement pitches in his arsenal and his breaking ball is a far cry better than when he first came up to the big leagues, years ago.
Using the team’s incredible starting pitching depth is a way to supplement the argument that, maybe Salazar’s place on the team isn’t as a starter, but rather, as a reliever. He has a perfect repertoire for the job. He’s injury-prone, but when each outing is roughly 20-30 pitches and an inning, maybe two, each, injuries are a lot less frequent. Flamethrower pitchers make for great relievers for this specific reason: he wouldn’t have to conserve himself to be able to pitch deep into the ballgame. He could come out hurling fireballs right out of the gate, something he is definitely adept at doing.
Finally, considering his injury history, Salazar isn’t likely to command a huge contract, regardless of the role he may fill. The Indians could take advantage of this, get a team friendly deal, and give him a shot in the bullpen. He has some seriously good potential as a reliever and it would be remiss of the team to simply do away with him altogether.
None of this outright closes the door on him potentially returning to the starting rotation either. Maybe he isn’t a fulltime reliever; he spends a season in the bullpen, as a way to stay productive and, more importantly healthy, before giving it a go again as a starter. Or maybe he flourishes as a reliever and really calls that craft his own, carving a long, solid career doing it. Either way, he won’t be much of a risk to at least hold onto and try this out moving forward.