I am really excited that Danny Salazar is going to be starting the wild card game for the Tribe.  There are a lot of rookie pitchers that I would be concerned about pitching in a sudden death scenario such as this one.  Not Salazar though.  Salazar has shown that he likes the pressure, and doesn’t mind the spotlight.  There are two breeds of players in every major sport: the players that thrive in high intensity situations when all eyes are on them and the players that shy away from the spotlight and crumble under pressure.  I believe Salazar belongs to the first breed of player.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for being a little hesitant about Salazar pitching this game though.  Remember, the kid is only 23 years old and has likely never pitched in a game anywhere close to this type of magnitude.  A lot of this deals with the psychological aspect of the game, an area in which sabermetricians often either ignore or find difficulty in quantifying.  However, here are a few stats that should make us feel good about Salazar starting this game.

With runners on base Salazar has an impressive .232 BAA.  What happens to the BAA for Salazar with RISP?  The BAA drops to .121.  What’s the most pressure filled count in baseball?  Most would say it’s the full count.  Opposing hitters have exactly one hit against Salazar in 20 AB in at-bats that went to a full count (good for a .083 BAA).  According to FanGraphs, against Salazar the opposition has a .167 BAA in high leverage situations.  If we want to use precedent, let’s think about any past high-pressure games that Salazar has pitched in.  Obviously there’s one that’s going to come to everyone’s mind, and that’s his start against the Tigers on August 7th.  He fared brilliantly in this situation against arguably the best offense in the league, until he gave up a game-tying two run homer in the 8th to Miguel Cabrera.  In case anyone forgot though, he had struck out Miguel Cabrera, aka the best hitter in baseball, and Prince Fielder a combined 5 times that game, and struck out 10 batters overall.

What does all of this tell us?  I think it points toward the fact that Salazar belongs to the breed of player that enjoys and thrives in the spotlight.  The statistics above don’t conclusively prove anything due to small sample size, high variability, and proven randomness of the “clutch factor”.  However, they do give us a minor insight into the type of competitor Salazar is, and for those of us who have watched him since his debut this season, I think it’s justified to say that this kid is a pretty fierce competitor who can handle the challenge he is about to take on Wednesday.

It’s an amazing time to be a Tribe fan.  Everyone’s already excited that we will be at the center of the baseball world on Wednesday on our home turf.  I think it makes it a even a little bit more exciting that the baseball world is going to see our young gun, our gem, and our future phenom on one of the biggest and most dramatic stages baseball has to offer.  Wow, I can’t wait for postseason baseball to return back to the “216” on Wednesday, and I know the rest of you are right there with me.


  • Shaun says:

    Yeahhhhhhh!!!!!! Salazar is going to set the WC on fire

  • SeattleStu says:

    I hope you guys are right but I still disagree with our strategy today. And Tito has to play it superclose on wed if the kid can’t cut it loose. Quick hook if necessary with a couple guys on notice to be ready to throw 2+ innings.

    • nikki says:

      At this point in time, I’m not going to question Tito. One could argue that yesterday’s win is almost as important as a win on Wednesday — we used Jimenez for it and we got exactly what we needed.

      Besides, we still have Masterson. Salazar has only been averaging between 5 and 6 innings, so if he falters or runs his pitch count up, I’m sure we’ll see Nasty Masty in relief.

      • Cale says:

        I was thinking about the Masterson effect as well. I’m not sure if they are still going to limit him on the pitch count or not, but Masterson has been pitching about every other day. With upping it to 1.2 IP yesterday, maybe you can put him out there for 3 innings if Salazar only goes 4.

    • shaun says:

      i was thinking about it last night…
      even if ubaldo was rested, i’d tab salazar…
      for all of ryan’s excellent points above but most of all, i think he exudes a type of arrogance that you need in a pitcher and he’s going to pin it inside. i do believe in the quick hook though as well. let’s see!

  • DougK says:

    Does anyone know who would start for either TB or TX?

  • Excited says:

    I thought the Tribe should have limited Jimenez on Sunday then let him go on a short rest to the wild card game. We had the 2-0 lead early, and Minnesota wasn’t doing anything offensively. We had the arms in the bullpen that would have held the lead. Jimenez is a top pitch again and he is the ace of the squad. With that said, I think Salazar will do amazing as well, and I look forward to selling this game out with the home crowd support. Go Tribe!!

  • The Doctor says:

    was hoping this is how it would play out as soon as i knew we’d be making it. there simply isn’t another starter on the team that has the potential to completely dominate an opposing lineup.

  • Cleveland sports fanatic says:


  • medfest says:

    Both the Rays and Rangers are good fast ball hitting line ups.Salazar is a fastball pitcher.His change up is erratic and his slider is crap.If he doesn’t have the 99 mph heater working it could be a short outing.

    Neither team has faced Salazar,big edge to Salazar there.

    Unlike the regular season the Indians will actually have a long man or two in the bullpen if Salazar stumbles.

    Boy I love play off baseball.

  • Robert says:

    Adding to Nikki’s point, a win yesterday cannot be understated, as it allowed us to avoid more tiebreaker games and opens questions of whether we’d even see the wild card game. At that point in the season you have to prioritize getting that win to ensure you even have a playoff game.

    It’s also worth noting that the timing sets Ubaldo up to pitch Game 1 of the ALDS. When you weigh Ubaldo securing the top WC spot + plus starting Game 1 of the ALDS + confidence in Salazar vs. a preferring to have Ubaldo pitch in the big WC game, I still think this was the right move.

    We can’t have Ubaldo pitch every game for us guys, sheesh (who ever thought that line could/would be uttered?!)

  • Zach says:

    People forget that Salazar will pitching on extended rest too. But if he needs relief, we can roll out Kluber on normal rest or McAllister on long rest also. I don’t want to look past Wednesday but should we win then. The rotation is set up for the ALDS with Ubaldo on normal rest in game 1 with Kazmir/Kluber/McAllister to follow.

  • Tribe Fan in San Diego says:

    Because Ubaldo went Sunday and not Weds, he will be ready to go that much sooner in Boston (crossing fingers.)

    Salazar backed up by Masterson is an extremely potent lineup. Hopefully we don’t need to use Masterson though, because we may need him in Boston.

    I remember that game you talked about with Salazar against Detroit. Salazar struck out Miguel Cabrera 3 times, but then got homered on the 4th. That will be the key. Because they havn’t seen Salazar before he may have a good first few innings. If they start to dial in, Tito needs to be ready to pull him fast.

  • Jim says:

    I think Salazar with both Masterson and McAllister as back ups could be a solid 1-2-3 punch. Hopefully Salazar will not need the help of both guys, but Salazar (fast balls) + Masterson (junk balls) could keep either team off their stroke.

  • Dave says:

    It’s foolish to complain about the use of Ubaldo on Sunday. Winning Sunday was basically like winning two games.

    I love that the Rays have never seen Salazar. He’s nasty, and he’s got the swagger to really step up tomorrow night.

    It’s gonna be a close game, and that place is gonna be rockin’! Go Tribe!