Posted on August 15, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the best starting rotations in baseball is poised to get one of their best pitchers off the DL later this week. The Cleveland Indians announced Monday that righty Danny Salazar will be activated from the DL on Thursday and start the series finale against the Chicago White Sox. Salazar has been on the shelf with elbow inflammation since he lasted just two innings, allowing six runs, in a start against the Minnesota Twins on August 1.
Even before Salazar went on the DL, he said the soreness in his right elbow had been an issue for several starts. He sat out the all-star game in hopes of giving his elbow a little extra time to rest and recover, but it did not appear to work. In the four starts he made during the month of July, Salazar posted a 6.14 ERA.
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“Hopefully this did the trick,” Cleveland manger Terry Francona said of Salazar’s time on the DL, “and for the last several weeks of the regular season, he’ll be [better]. It doesn’t always mean that you’re going to win, but it’s nice to let a guy go out there and be himself.”
Salazar threw a simulated game on Sunday and reported no pain or soreness on Monday morning, making the Indians comfortable slotting him into the rotation for Thursday. He says he tried to push himself to really test the health of his elbow and came away feeling fine. “It got me pumped up a little like being in a game,” Salazar said. “I really tried to go full intensity there.”
Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway made sure he took a close look at Salazar’s mechanics during the simulated game. “I really saw a pretty good Danny Salazar,” Callaway said. “Then, we took him out on the main field and put him on Trackman, just to see all the numbers. His extension was good. He was using his legs well. All the numbers lined up. He’s doing really good.”
Even with his struggles in July and his August 1 start against the Twins, Salazar’s numbers overall are slightly better than they were last season. Salazar was sensational over the first three months of the season, including a 1.91 ERA across five starts in June. The rest of Cleveland’s rotation has been just as good this season, which is why the Indians have a five game lead atop the AL Central entering heading into Monday.
When Salazar returns to the Cleveland rotation on Thursday he will be on a pitch count. The Indians haven’t disclosed a specific number, but Callaway has said that it will be under 100 pitches. Mike Clevinger, who has taken Salazar’s spot in the rotation during his absence, will return to the bullpen starting Tuesday. Most importantly, a healthy Salazar will rejoin one of the best starting rotations in baseball in hopes of helping the Indians secure a playoff spot over the final month and a half of the season.