Salazar to start against Tigers on Wednesday
The Indians have made an interesting change to their starting rotation in advance of the big four game series with the AL Central Division leading Tigers which starts on Monday. They have announced that Ubaldo Jimenez has been pushed back to Friday and that Danny Salazar will be called up from Triple-A Columbus to start the game on Wednesday.
Salazar, 23, impressed the Indians decision makers on July 11th when in his major league debut he went 6.0 innings and allowed one run on two hits, one walk and had seven strikeouts. In 21 appearances between Double-A Akron and Columbus this season he is 6-5 with a 2.71 ERA and in 93.0 innings he has allowed 71 hits, 24 walks and has 129 strikeouts. He has not allowed an earned run in five of his last six starts with Columbus, and over his last three outings has thrown 14.0 shutout innings and allowed six hits, one walk, and has 25 strikeouts.
The Indians have been carefully monitoring Salazar's workload all season as he is coming off Tommy John surgery from three years ago and only threw 87.1 innings last season. He has also thrown more than 65 innings in his career just three times and has only once eclipsed 100 innings (107 in 2009). They have not said exactly what his innings limit is this season, but it is believed to be around 125-135 innings. If he has a good outing against the Tigers on Wednesday he probably will not remain in the rotation because of that innings limit; however, there is a possibility that he could stick with the club in a bullpen role.
Jimenez, 29, has had a solid bounce back season for the Indians this year. In 22 starts he is 8-6 with a 4.18 ERA, and in 116.1 innings has allowed 110 hits, 62 walks and has 110 strikeouts. But he has struggled in several outings this season and been fortunate to escape more damage, and he has lacked efficiency in his outings which have prevented him from going more than 5.0 innings on several occasions. Another thing in play is in 16 career starts against the Tigers he is 5-9 with a 5.32 ERA and this season in three starts is 1-2 with a 6.92 ERA.
Pushing back Jimenez is an example of a team being proactive in advance of a big series, but also shows a lack of confidence in Jimenez. It implies that he would not be one of their top starters for a big playoff game or even in a playoff rotation, and all but seals the fate for him and the organization to part ways this offseason (he has a mutual option which both parties likely won't agree to pick up).
As to who the Indians may removed from the 25-man roster to add Salazar on Wednesday? It would appear that they could simply just option out reliever Bryan Shaw or even designate Matt Albers for assignment; however, it would be tough to go an arm short in the bullpen on Wednesday when Salazar is starting as you really do not know what to expect from him nor know how long he can go. With this in mind, the Indians may also be considering designating Mark Reynolds for assignment.
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Bottom line: I think they go down a reliever for one night to bring Salazar up, but then restock with their AAA depth options the next day. If they option Shaw, they can always bring him back beginning in 10 days should his replacement, or anyone else (Albers or either the two lefties) falters. If all is good, they have yet another "good" problem to work out.