Salazar Gets Demoted After Rough Spring

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cleveland.com
cleveland.com

Today the Indians decided to demote SP Danny Salazar after several rough starts this spring. Danny Salazar joins other starter candidates Shaun Marcum and Bruce Chen in minor league camp.

Throughout the past two years, Salazar has teased the Indians organization and the fans with his tantalizing fastball, nasty changeup and devastating slider. But from the beginning of the 2014 regular season on, Salazar has been incredibly inconsistent and has been beat up on the mound.

Last Season, Salazar made 20 starts for the Indians and posted a 6-8 record with a 4.25 ERA. Whereas in 2013, Salazar went 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA and made the start in the Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The whole run increase in Salazar’s ERA is troubling to say the least, and his lack of command a year ago led to 35 walks and a .272 batting average against.

So far this spring, Salazar has made four starts and has posted a horrible 8.18 ERA. Along with the horrendous ERA, Salazar has also given up 5 home runs, 10 earned runs and a .304 batting average against.

None of the starts though were as bad as the implosion Salazar had against the Reds on Thursday. Salazar started the game well by striking out leadoff man Billy Hamilton and 2B Brandon Phillips. But then gave up a solo shot to Reds 3B Todd Frazier on a poorly located fastball. The start only got worse from there. In the second inning, Salazar gave up another home run this time to Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco. Then, after a series of hits and one hit batter Salazar was looking at an additional four spot on the board and a 5-1 deficit. Salazar only lasted 3.1 innings and at that point Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway and manager Terry Francona had seen enough.

“We talked to Danny this morning and explained to him that he’s going to open up the season in Triple-A,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Just on the body of work in spring training, we think he’d be best suited to start in Triple-A and to, whether you say earn, perform his way back into helping us win” (via mlb.com).

What has led to Salazar’s demise has been his horrendous fastball command. You can throw the ball 100 mph but in the majors if that pitch is right down the middle instead of on the corner big league hitters can mash it and cause some damage. The bad command also leads to ineffectiveness of off-speed pitches. Salazar ended up over using his splitter and slider in his starts this spring which made his pitch mix extremely predictable.

Salazar explained his feelings after the game.

“After a game like this, [I don’t feel] really good,” Salazar said. “Physically, I’m good. But, when you start a game good, and then you just lose your release point, and you start leaving the ball up, and then you have to come down to the middle because you don’t want to walk anybody, and they start hitting you, you’re going to feel [bad]” (via mlb.com).

Indians manager Terry Francona said that Salazar’s issue has been his inconsistency.

“The stuff is definitely there,” Fracona said. “It’s not there yet consistently, whether he’s locating or following a pitch up with two pitches in a row. Again, we’ll keep working at it — that’s for darn sure — but the results weren’t kind of what we’re looking for” (via mlb.com).

Well, after the disappointing injury to Gavin Floyd and the demotion of Salazar, Marcum, and Chen, we are left with LHP T.J. House, RHP Zach MacAllister, and RHP Josh Tomlin as the last candidates for the 4th and 5th spots in the Indians rotation.

Luckily for the Indians, based on scheduling circumstances, they only need a fifth starter two times in the entire month of April. So if they want to go with MacAllister for the first month of the season and then move him to the bullpen they can. Hopefully Salazar can find his confidence at Triple-A and join the Indians in May for the remainder of the season.

As for now, I believe that T.J. House will secure the fourth spot in the Indians rotation with the fifth spot still up for grabs heading into the final week of spring training.

Unfortunately, the super-talented Salazar has disappointed us once again during spring training and has been demoted. Maybe one day he will figure it out and be a real stud for the Tribe. For now though, we can only sit back and hope that something clicks for the struggling Salazar in the minors.

 

By Gabe Cohn

Follow me on twitter: @CSTGabe

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