Salazar’s Shoulder Issue Shuffles Indians’ Starting Rotation
Bob Toth | On 07, Jun 2016
The Indians were expected to activate reliever Joba Chamberlain on Monday, prior to the start of their series against the Seattle Mariners. As news of the move and a corresponding personnel adjustment to create space on the 25-man roster failed to come, there was some concern as to what the hold up was.
Before Monday’s game, the Indians announced that starting pitcher Danny Salazar would be moved back from his scheduled start on Wednesday while battling what was described as right shoulder fatigue after his last start.
In the domino effect of moves made as a result, Tuesday’s starter, Carlos Carrasco, was pushed back into Salazar’s spot on Wednesday. The team will also recall Cody Anderson from Triple-A Columbus to make a spot start in Seattle on Tuesday night to fill the other vacant rotation spot.
The move comes with some concerns about Salazar, who threw a season-high eight innings in a 6-1 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. He allowed just one run (a solo homer) on three hits, walked five, and struck out nine. Control has been an ongoing issue this season and could be linked to the fatigued shoulder, as the five free passes on Friday were actually one short of the season-high six he threw against Houston in a no-decision on May 11, when he also struck out a season-high ten batters.
Salazar is 6-3 this season with a 2.24 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP through his first eleven starts. He entered action on Monday as the American League leader in ERA, ERA+, and strikeouts per nine innings among qualified starters. He has struck out 81 batters, walked 33, and allowed 44 hits in 68 1/3 innings. He is first on the Indians staff in strikeouts, batting average against, ERA, and strikeouts per nine innings; is second in wins, games started, batters faced, total pitches, and innings pitched; and is third in WHIP and on-base percentage against.
The Indians will aim for Salazar to return to his spot in the rotation when it comes around next, Sunday in Anaheim in the series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.
Anderson had his best start of the season with the Indians in the second game of their doubleheader in Chicago on Monday, May 23. He allowed just one run on five hits in a season-high seven innings, giving up no walks while striking out nine. Even more important, he kept the ball from sailing over the U.S. Cellular Fence in Chicago, an issue that had plagued him ten times through his first seven outings of the 2016 season for Cleveland.
Upon returning to Columbus, he seemed to have built off the strong spot start for the Tribe. He threw four no-hit innings in Columbus against the Durham Bulls on May 28, striking out six and walking one while throwing 32 of 48 pitches for strikes. In his next outing on June 2 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he gave up just one unearned run on seven hits in six innings in a no-decision. He struck out seven in the game, issuing one walk and hitting a batter.
He was originally scheduled to start for the Clippers on Tuesday. He is 1-3 for Cleveland this season in eight games (seven starts) with a 6.81 ERA and 1.59 WHIP.
Carrasco made his return from the 15-day disabled list on June 2 against the Kansas City Royals. He had missed more than five weeks with a strained hamstring but looked good in his return against a dangerous Royals lineup. On a pitch count of around 80 pitches, Carrasco tossed 78 on the night over five innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts. He allowed a two-run homer in the third inning to give Kansas City a brief lead and allowed three straight two-out singles in the fourth to allow the Royals to reclaim a 3-2 advantage at the time. The Indians would win the game with their second consecutive walk-off victory in the bottom of the ninth, getting a one-out, game-tying RBI-triple from Francisco Lindor before the game-winning sacrifice fly from Mike Napoli to end it.
The extra day of rest should only help Carrasco adjust back into regular duty after making just one abbreviated rehab start at Akron prior to rejoining the Indians roster.
As for Chamberlain, his return from his own disabled list trip after suffering a left intercostal strain is likely delayed an additional game. Cleveland will need to make a roster move to add Anderson back to the 25-man roster, possibly involving reliever Austin Adams, who has options remaining and would not be needed with Chamberlain’s return. When Anderson is optioned back to Columbus following his start on Tuesday, it would open the necessary roster spot for Chamberlain to return to the bullpen.
The 30-year-old veteran reliever has been on the disabled list since May 23, retroactive to May 22, after a rough relief outing in Boston that was made worse by poor decision-making in the field that extended the seventh inning of a game he entered in relief. With the bases loaded and one out and trailing 4-0, the right-hander got a fielder’s choice grounder hit at Juan Uribe, who threw home for the force rather than around the horn for a potential inning-ending double play ball. The inning was kept alive and Chamberlain walked the next man to force in a run and gave up a grand slam to Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts to blow the game wide open.
He worked a simulated game on Saturday and appeared to come away from the 20-pitch session unharmed. He was first eligible to come off of the disabled list Monday, but a tremendous outing from Trevor Bauer prevented any major need for the bullpen corps that night, lessening the blow of his delayed return from the DL.
Chamberlain has appeared in 14 games for the Indians this season, giving up four runs (three earned) over 14 innings (1.93 ERA). He has allowed six hits and six walks (0.86 WHIP) and has struck out 15.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images