Danny Salazar Returns

I went more-or-less all in on Danny Salazar this year. I loved his strikeout ability and while I was worried about his home runs I was not worried enough to avoid him in any drafts. In my redraft and keeper leagues I drafted him without hesitation and expected him to be one of my top performers, which I similarly did with Michael Wacha. Unfortunately, Salazar struggled mightily and earned himself a demotion after just 10 starts.

After making another 10 starts, this time in triple-A, Salazar is on his way back to the majors. During his stint in the minors Salazar has continued to be inconsistent, specifically with his command, but he has still been striking out batters at a feverous pace and has seen his results improve over the past few weeks. Likely the main reason the Indians are confident in calling Salazar back up is due to his 2.32 ERA over his past five starts spanning 31 innings. In those 31 innings he has compiled 39 strikeouts but has also issued 17 walks.

The latter part is my concern. Last year Salazar posted a solid 7.1% walk rate and had similar marks throughout the minors, give or take a few percentage points. This year in triple-A he’s at 11.5%, so while I am excited about the opportunity of getting a very high upside pitcher back for a second half run, I am equally concerned that he will blow up in my face for the second time this season. I am preceding with a bit of caution this time out, but I think it is worthwhile to pick him up off the waiver wire if he is available and send some small offers over for him if you have the pitching depth to take some risks.

According to Scott Leo who was in attendance for Salazar’s last triple-A outing, he hit 98 mph a few times, which is a huge positive. His velocity dropped from about 96 to just under 94 so seeing him be able to ramp up to 98 is certainly a big plus when considering adding or trading for Salazar before he makes his return.

In long term leagues I still have a lot of confidence in Salazar. Even if he ends up being more wild than we expected, his strikeout stuff should still allow him to be a playable fantasy asset for years to come. Prospects have hiccups and I am hoping this is what we are looking at with Salazar. I would be much more confident if these command issues had not popped up, but with his velocity high, his results over the past month being solid, and his velocity back up to where it was last year, I am officially back on the hook for Salazar.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

18 Responses to “Danny Salazar Returns”

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  1. Drop Minor for him? Similar HR and BB issues but Salazar should K more but Minor may get more W’s. hmmmm…

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    • MDL says:

      No, unless you’re in a really shallow league. If you think Minor is expendable then IMO you’re better off seeking a trade then dropping him outright.

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  2. ben says:

    Ben – You’re not alone, I went all in as well… He was 2013’s Matt Harvey (who had a great run in mid-late 2012) and I was expecting a 2013 Harvey-esque performance out of him…

    Like Momento, it’s kind of hard to follow, I know. Hopefully makes some sense though.

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  3. Bubba says:

    Salazar or Rubby De La Rosa?

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  4. danwatson19 says:

    I was also at his last start…while his velocity did look good, he was also over 80 pitches through 4 innings, and only made it just over 5 innings with 5bb and 5k…

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  5. baltic fox says:

    It’s also nice to see that his tendency to give up gopher balls has diminished in his last few minor league starts. Obviously, it doesn’t mean a whole lot when you get to the ML level, but that velocity uptick will play well at any level.

    11 walks in his last two starts is troubling, but he didn’t give up many hits or runs.

    Both starts were against the Pittsburgh AAA team. Anybody in the FG universe see these games? Was he crazy wild, or did Pittsburgh go in to “take” mode full bore? After all, if a SP in the minors is hitting 98 frequently, maybe you should take a few pitches and hope for the best.

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  6. Daniel Cabrera says:

    He reminds me of me.

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    • Emcee Peepants says:

      Not even close. Salazar’s K-BB% so far is 20.2 (in a SSS), Cabrera’s was 3.8 and never even reached double digits in the majors. Aside from this recent AAA stint, Salazar never posted a BB% above 10, Cabrera was 12.9 for his career.

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  7. Jonathan Sanchez says:

    I send him Christmas cards.

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  8. Brian says:

    Would you drop Taijuan Walker or Yordano Ventura for Salazar in a 12 team mixed roto? Thanks!

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  9. Big Zeke says:

    The walk issues have only really been over his last two starts. Any chance they are related to Salazar having to readjust to his velocity, which appears to be increasing with every start?

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    • BMac says:

      You could have a point there. I noticed that some pitchers coming back from TJ surgery experience velocity changes, and it seems to impact the effectiveness of their off-speed offerings. I am guessing that their sliders or curves arrive at the plate too soon or too late, before they have a chance to move around or after they have clearly left the strike zone. The pitcher needs to make adjustments for the gain or loss in velocity.

      Personally, I think pitchers need to work that out in the minors before getting called up, unless they are just going to junk the pitches that have stopped working. Even then, you need to figure out how to be effective with a reduced pitching repertoire. Some major league teams think differently about this. Regardless, I sure don’t give such pitchers innings on my fantasy team.

      Salazar got kicked around last time in the majors, and now he has unresolved control problems, possibly related to velocity. It seems to me he is likely to get kicked around again.

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  10. mymaus says:

    Would you drop Kennedy, Lincecum or Hammel for him?

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  11. I Like Baseball Sports says:

    hey look at my butt

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