Since mid-September, much has been made of the Indians pitching staff, especially when Danny Salazar was shelved with “right forearm tightness” and Carlos Carrasco broke his hand on a line drive – would this team have enough pitching? Could they compete with elite teams given the fact their greatest strength had just been muted? Well, fortunately for us all, I’m here writing this article, mostly because Tito Francona morphed into the baseball version of Bobby Fischer with his masterful handling of the bullpen and, of course, Andrew Miller became the unhittable pitching demigod that was saw in the ALDS and ALCS. All of this has kind of muted the impact that a bruised starting rotation might have had on a very good and very well-rounded Indians team, but that shouldn’t take any joy out of the news that was announced today.
Danny Salazar is back, having been added to the World Series roster.
He is not in the World Series to start, instead he’ll come out of the bullpen, but this can only be seen as a tremendous boon and a great boost to the pitching depth of a team that might once again start a very green rookie (with a lot more wedding gifts than he had just over a week ago) in a crucial game on the road.
Salazar, as you might remember, was not very good in the second half of the season. In the first half, he was undoubtedly an all-star, going 10-3 in 17 starts with a crisp 2.75 ERA. He might have started the All-Star game if not for that lingering fatigue or tightness in his pitching arm. That tightness certainly contributed to the miserable second half Salazar endured, going 1-3 in 8 starts with an unseemly 7.44 ERA. He looked a lot better in two starts in September before being shut down after his start on the 9th in which he went only 4.0 innings and allowed 3 runs. So while the last impression Salazar gave us wasn’t the best, he claims to be feeling great.
“I got really excited,” Salazar said when he was informed he had been added to the roster. “I’m just really happy to be able to throw a ball without any soreness.” Expanding on that theme, Salazar went on to suggest he is completely recovered from the injury that put him on the shelf, “It [my arm] is really strong. I don’t have any type of things bothering me. I feel really strong every time I go out there.”
According to pitching coach Mickey Callaway (as told to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian), Salazar was topping out at 97mph in a recent simulated game, which seems to support what the right hander is saying about his arm.
Based on the simulated games that he has thrown, it is reasonable to expect Salazar to be able to throw 60-70 pitches at a go, which might suggest he would be able to start Game 4 at Wrigley Field, but the team is mum on those plans for now, as they should be.