Terry Francona’s ball club will have to overcome yet another round of injuries as the Indians head down the stretch, an exercise that is seemingly renewed every season as they hope to make the postseason four consecutive times. Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and earlier in the season, Mike Clevinger were the chosen victims this year.
Obviously, every organization has injuries – just look at the Yankees. However, it does seem to be a yearly deal for Cleveland baseball fans like myself to watch their players continue to go down at inopportune moments. All things considered, it seems the Tribe should be able to hold their ground without Ramirez, as Franmil Reyes is hitting like he should and our second-baseman looks stronger than any of the last two seasons. Among the unfortunate events of 2019, none have proven as more disappointing than the attempted resurrection of pitcher Danny Salazar.
Salazar has been dealing with a strained shoulder, causing him to miss the entire 2018 campaign. After months of rehab in Florida, the Indians felt confident enough to bring him back to face the Astros in a pivotal tiebreaker game of a three-game series. It was somewhere in the four inning stretch that he inexplicably pulled his groin, neglecting to tell the coaching staff. The former flamethrower looked unimpressive and impotent, to say the least. Failing to top 88 mph, it was a near miracle Houston didn’t tattoo him for eight runs and to his credit, he battled through 70 pitches, surrendering only two runs. It was frankly sad to watch, a guy with a free and easy upper 90’s fastball and biting slider reduced to shambles.
Now, he appears to have fallen out of favor throughout the organization, but he is still making rehab starts at Double A Akron. On Wednesday, Salazar pitched only 2/3 of an inning, giving up three runs on three hits to the Altoona Curve. Not only is it inexcusable to get injured during warm-ups, but it’s nothing new for Salazar to be collecting paychecks while sitting on the bench for extended periods of time. This would be acceptable if Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff were “taking a flyer” on a low-cost pitcher. However, they have paid Salazar “$9.5 million over the last two years,” as Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports. It doesn’t take a mathematician to discern that this money could’ve been put towards signing perennial .300 hitter Michael Brantley.
But that’s beside the point. In the here and now, the Tribe has multiple young starters beginning to shine: Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and All-Star MVP Shane Bieber, all of whom were dug up in the 2016 MLB Draft just three years ago. Throw in newly acquired lefties Logan Allen and Scott Moss, the latter of which is impressing early in Triple A Columbus, striking out nine through 4 2/3 innings on Tuesday. So I ask the Indians: cut the cord with Danny Salazar. Let him tryout for another ball club and wish him well, he’s due for a break. But it’s time for the Tribe to devote their time and resources towards the bright future, not broken retreads that have clearly lost it.