Righty reaffirms club's call not to trade for starter before Deadline
By William Kosileski
CLEVELAND -- When the Indians activated starter Danny Salazar from the disabled list on July 22, they were unsure of what exactly they would get from the right-hander. Two weeks later, after the hard-throwing hurler delivered his third consecutive quality start, the Indians couldn't be more confident in Salazar as a reliable option to give the ball to every fifth day.
Salazar was nothing short of dominant on Saturday night against the Yankees at Progressive Field, allowing one run, four hits and three walks while striking out a career-high 12 in seven frames en route to a no-decision. Although the Tribe went on to lose, 2-1, Salazar's stellar, 112-pitch outing is something that the Indians and fans alike can hang their hats on.
"That was good to see," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "[If] he pitches like that, we're all going to be happy."
With his strong showing on Saturday, Salazar has now posted a 1.35 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP in his three starts since coming off the DL. In 20 innings across that trio of starts, Salazar has held opposing hitters to a .121/.183/.197 slash line while recording 28 strikeouts, giving him a 39.4 percent strikeout percentage in that span.
"He's been doing that consistently the last couple starts since he's been back," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said on behalf of Salazar, who respectfully requested not to speak with the media after the game due to a hoarse voice.
"It's really nice to see. I know from everyone else, everyone was kind of iffy on how he was going to kind of come back. He's healthy. We all know when he's healthy, he's a dangerous pitcher."
Based on Salazar's first two outings off the DL, the Tribe opted to not pursue a starting pitching before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to start behind ace Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. His display of dominance over the New York lineup on Saturday reaffirmed that decision.
Other than the three walks he issued, the only blemish on Salazar's line came on an RBI double from Didi Gregorius in the first inning. After allowing that knock, Salazar held the Yankees to a 2-for-21 showing.
"It's starting to show that he's kind of just letting it eat now," Gomes said. "You don't see the 89-90 [mph] out of nowhere; 89-90 is usually an offspeed. It's good that he's healthy, he's feeling good. Once his confidence starts rising, that's when we know he's going to be real good."
In his final inning, Salazar struck out the side in order. His final pitch clocked in at 96 mph, resulting in a swinging third strike from Yankees catcher Austin Romine.
"That's good to see, especially late in the game like that," Francona said of Salazar's velocity. "When he's nearing the end of his game, his last pitch I think was , and there was some purpose behind it. ... When you can go get another gear that late, that's impressive."
Salazar handed the ball over to Zach McAllister in the eighth, but the reliever allowed a solo homer to Chase Headley that ultimately proved to be the difference in the ballgame. Afterward, McAllister praised Salazar for his consistency since rejoining the rotation.
"I think it's great for anybody that we face," McAllister said. "To see the staff that we have, especially [with Salazar] getting on a roll, he's an All-Star. He has All-Star stuff. When he's locked in, he's one of the best in baseball."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.