I wanted to hammer this out as fast as possible during today’s series opener with the Minnesota Twins. As this is being written, the Indians are down 3-0 with newest phenom Danny Salazar on the mound. He has allowed two bombs from the Twins on pitches that simply got too much of the plate. Bad execution leads to bad results. Just like the pitch he threw to Miguel Cabrera in his last game.
However, now I am REALLY impressed with Danny Salazar. His response to the second home run from the Twins was nothing short of spectacular. He took a deep breath. Then proceeded to strike out the side with a fantastic mixture of off speed pitches and well located fastballs. If anyone doubts that he belongs in the majors, they haven’t seen enough baseball. This young man is the real deal and a sight for the sore eyes of Indian fans everywhere.
He may lose tonight’s game. He might even get bombed out early. But that response to the second home run shows that his head is on straight and he has the emotional control required of a great starter in the big leagues.
There is no question that his stuff is major league ready. But there are many pitchers with major league stuff who never make it in the major leagues. And there are even more pitchers with major league stuff that never make it as a starter in the major leagues. To be a starter you have to demonstrate consistency, command, emotional control and an ability to adjust to the game as it develops. If you have all of those things and dynamic stuff, you can be an ACE. Now it is way too early to place that responsibility on this young man. But I have seen enough to see that it could happen and would be a great boost to the Indian’s hopes next year. He could even help this year if the team finds a way out of their current funk.
Think of Danny Salazar as the anti-Carrasco. Carlos has dynamic stuff like Salazar. But Carlos has never demonstrated the emotional control or ability to adjust to the game. Salazar, in just a short time, has demonstrated all of that. As I finished the last sentence, Salazar just pitches himself into and out of a bases loaded jam. That is also a trait of a great pitcher. So, no matter what the result today, this performance has solidified my positive opinion of Danny Salazar. This may be his worst performance on paper but, when analyzed in the detail baseball deserves, is actually his best.
The unfortunate blow to Kluber may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. If it doesn’t turn out to help this year, my belief is that it will for years to come. Salazar is here to stay as long as he stays healthy. It will be very tough for Antonetti or Francona to decide otherwise.