TORONTO -- There is a good debate to be had over which starting pitcher was most valuable to the Indians throughout the team's memorable month of June. Danny Salazar's case now includes the American League Pitcher of the Month Award.
That honor arrived for Salazar on Saturday, while Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin was named the AL's Rookie of the Month for June, as well. During Cleveland's 22-6 showing last month, it was starting pitching that served as the driving force. Salazar played a key part in helping the Indians' rise to first place in the AL Central.
"We've said all along, from Spring Training, that we wanted to rely on our pitching," Indians manager Terry Francona said recently. "They have really done a great job."
For June, Cleveland's starting staff ranked first in the Majors in innings (194 2/3), ERA (2.50), wins (16), WHIP (0.99), opponents' average (.206) and WAR (4.3, per Fangraphs.com), while ranking second in strikeouts (182). Salazar led AL starters (min. 25 innings) in wins (5-0) and ended with a 1.91 ERA to go along with 35 strikeouts in 33 innings.
Salazar currently leads the AL with a 2.22 ERA.
Trevor Bauer (3-0, 2.01 ERA, 44 2/3 innings), Corey Kluber (4-1, 2.19 ERA, 37 innings), Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.60 ERA, 34 2/3 innings) and Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 2.61 ERA, 44 1/3 innings) also enjoyed strong showings in June, as the Tribe headed into Saturday riding a club-record 14-game winning streak.
Naquin hit .338 in June with six home runs, five doubles, three triples, 12 runs scored, 15 RBIs and a .785 slugging percentage in 23 games. He headed into Saturday's game against the Blue Jays with a .319/.383/.578 slash line through 51 games played this season.
"He's got some survival instincts in him that I'm not sure you can really teach," Francona said.
The Indians also had the AL Pitcher and Rookie of the Month in September of last season, when Cody Anderson and Francisco Lindor, respectively, took home the awards.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.