The Cleveland Indians starting rotation took another hit on Monday afternoon as the team announced that All-Star right-hander Danny Salazar will miss three to four weeks with “a mild strain to his flexor musculature” in his right forearm.
Salazar’s injury compounds the struggles of 31-year-old right-hander Josh Tomlin, who has been reinserted into the starting rotation with Salazar’s injury. Tomlin will pitch on Wednesday in Chicago, while rookie righty Mike Clevinger will continue to pick up innings in the rotation on Thursday afternoon.
The 26-year-old Salazar left his last start in Minnesota on September 9 after working just four innings and throwing 76 pitches. He allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts.
Salazar left the team after his start and returned to Cleveland for an MRI on Monday morning, where it was revealed after his examination by Dr. Mark Schickendantz that he had a mild strain to the flexor muscle in the right forearm. On the positive side, there were no issues with his previous reconstruction of his ulnar collateral ligament, which was repaired in 2010.
The right-hander was well on his way to a career year in the weeks preceding the All-Star break. Through his first 16 starts, he was 10-3 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 113 strikeouts in 99 innings of work.
Concerns about Salazar’s pitching arm are not a new thing this season for the Tribe.
After going eight innings and allowing three hits, but five walks, in his win on June 3, he was held back from his normal turn in the rotation to rest his arm. After allowing six runs on eight hits to the New York Yankees on July 9 in his final start before the break, he skipped participating in his first All-Star Game and was the last starter out of the block for Cleveland to start the second half to give him additional rest.
He looked himself in his first start after the break, allowing three runs (two earned) in six and two-thirds innings in a quality start on July 19 against Kansas City to earn a win. However, in the seven starts since that last win, he is 0-3 with an 8.65 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP. Three times in those outings he has failed to start the fifth inning and only twice has he pitched into the sixth inning (but has been unable to complete the frame in either).
He landed on the disabled list following his start on August 1, when he allowed six runs on six hits in two innings in a loss to Minnesota. Upon his return, he lasted just one inning and threw 34 pitches, walking three, giving up three runs, and inciting plenty of questions about why he was not shipped out for at least one rehab start before returning to Cleveland’s rotation.
The Indians will now have to adjust to losing their number three starter for the rest of the regular season, as well as potentially the American League Division Series if they finish off the AL Central in style. The regular season ends on Sunday, October 2, and the ALDS is scheduled to start on Thursday, October 6.
Salazar will be shut down from any throwing for a period of approximately ten days and will undergo a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on Tuesday.
Photo: Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
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