July 30, 2014

Tribe Weekend Recap: Santana streaking, rotation turning, and opportunities blown

Carlos Santana

The Indians couldn’t have picked a worse week to wet themselves. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: The only consistent thing about this team is their inconsistency. Just when you want to believe after they take three of four in Detroit, they come out and lose two of three to the Minnesota Twins in front of losing three of four in Kansas City to the Royals. You just had a bad feeling about this series when Corey Kluber’s Thursday gem was wasted in a 14-inning loss. Things just spiraled from there with bad losses both Friday (6-4) and Saturday (7-5). They salvaged the series finale with an offensive explosion in Sunday’s 10-3 win, but it seemed like a hollow victory. The weekend in Kansas City was disastrous.

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Is Danny Salazar back?

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It seems longer ago, but all it took was a mid-July afternoon on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. I sat next to TD, roughly thirty yards from the pitchers mound housed within Progressive Field, as Danny Salazar made his Major League debut. I had planned to only stay for a few innings, spending what would otherwise be my lunch hour taking in some Tribe baseball. We didn’t know what to totally expect, but all it would take was a smattering of 99-mile-per-hour fastballs mixed with off-speed stuff some 20 miles-per-hour slower and it was over: The legend was being penned.

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The Indians at the break: The Bad

Justin Masterson

47-47. .500. The middle. Average. Not great, but not bad. This is what our Cleveland Indians are as we sit here at the All-Star break.

Heading into the season, Terry Francona’s group had to deal with something that was not on the docket a year before; heightened expectations. Coming off of a 92-win, Wild Card season and bringing back essentially the same core group, the Tribe now wore a bulls-eye. They were not going to sneak up on anyone. And they haven’t.

The first half has brought moments of greatness and despair, moments of disappointment and exuberance. Certain guys have broken out, while others have taken huge steps backwards. We’ve seen regression to the mean from a few Indians as well. Hall of Fame Football coach Bill Parcells famously said “you are what you record says you are,” and the Indians are 47-47. All of this has added up to what they are: An average baseball team.

On Tuesday, we looked at “The Good” things the Tribe has done. In part two of our Tribe at the All-Star break series, we will examine what hasn’t exactly gone well for the Red, White, and Blue. [Read more...]

Salazar to DL with triceps strain

Danny SalazarDanny Salazar has been placed on the seven day DL with a triceps strain.

Salazar was sent down to Columbus on May 16th. He was 1-4 in eight starts for the Indians this season with an ERA of 5.53. He pitched more than five innings only three times in those eight starts.

So far the Indians have used eight different starting pitchers. TJ House, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin are all pitching like they don’t want to lose their spot in the rotation. Zach McAllister has a rehab start tonight.

Danny Salazar is a long way from where he was last year, and a long way from making it back to the Indians right now.

[Related: Hot starts, turning corners and streaking toward .500]

‘Bauer Outage’ could spark subpar Tribe starters

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Trevor Bauer finally looks like he’s getting his pro career on track and living up to the expectations that come with being the No. 3 overall draft pick. Ranked as the ninth best prospect by Baseball America after the 2011 season, Bauer sank to 83rd after a disappointing 2013 campaign in which the re-tooling of his windup made many scratch their heads over the acquisition of the former UCLA phenom from the Arizona Diamondbacks two winters earlier.

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Danny Salazar gets lit up in Columbus

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While Trevor Bauer will attempt to keep things rolling against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night, recently demoted starting pitcher Danny Salazar did himself no favors this afternoon when he was tagged for five runs on six hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings for the Columbus Clippers.

Salazar threw 42 out of 70 pitches for strikes and struck out just one batter.

At the big league level, the 24-year old had a 5.53 ERA (with FIP of 4.65) over eight starts prior to being demoted to the minors last week as the Indians attempt to keep ahold of the reigns before things really spiral out of control. Salazar has had trouble making it past the fifth inning due to high pitch totals. He has the ability to miss bats at an incredible rate (he’s struck out 47 batters in just 40 innings of work), but he has also seen plenty of pitches fouled off which have only served to extend at-bats and add more chalk lines to his in-game pitch count. In eight games, Salazar has already allowed more hits in 2014 (49) than he did through 10 games in his coming out party a season earlier (44). 

Year over year, Salazar’s strikeout rate is down, his walk rate is up, his home run rate is up, and—while he’s been very unlucky with a .369 BABiP—his fly ball (and home run-per-fly ball) rate has increased.

It’s safe to assume that Salazar will have to work out whatever issues he has—mechanical, mental—before the Indians will give him another shot. Until then, we have to hope that Bauer and Josh Tomlin can keep the rotation afloat.

MLB News: Indians option Danny Salazar to Columbus; Kyle Crockett promoted from Double-A

Kyle Crockett

With a 1-4 start to begin the 2014 season, and his team in need of continued consistency from the starting rotation, Danny Salazar has been optioned to Columbus. Salazr will head south with an ERA of 5.53 through eight starts where he allowed 49 hits in 40 2/3 innings, striking out 47 and walking 17.

Taking Salazar’s spot will be left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett who will get the fast-track call from Double-A Akron. Crockett, 22, has an ERA of 0.57 to go with 6 saves in 15 relief appearances for the Rubber Ducks this season. He has a struck out 17 and walked just three. Tied for fifth in the Eastern League in saves, he has limited left-handed Eastern league batters to a .118 average.

“We identified Kyle as a guy who could move quickly when we signed him,” said Ross Atkins earlier this season. “We liked the consistency of his stuff, his determination and his work ethic. He’s an exceptional strike thrower with two major-league average or above average pitches in his fastball and slider. He controls the running game, fields his position well. When you start checking the boxes of the things you need to be able to do to pitch in the big leagues, he’s already got a lot of boxes checked.”

Crockett was a fourth-round selection in the 2013 MLB Draft. In his Junior year with the University of Virginia, he walked only seven batters in 58.1 innings while striking out 71. He is the first member of the 2013 draft class to reach the Major Leagues, owning a two-year professional ERA of 0.45 in 36 relief appearances, striking out 49 and walking just eight in 40 1/3 innings of work. Getting the call after just 11 months of minor league work, Crockett tops Cody Allen who was promoted to the big leagues after just 14 months.

(Photo: Jonathon Gruenke / Daily Press)

Blue Jays 4, Indians 2: Happ-less against another lefty

Jesus Aguilar

Stop me if you heard this one before. A soft tossing lefty who hasn’t been great, sees the Indians and turns himself into the second coming of Sandy Koufax. Toronto’s JA Happ made his third start of the year. The last time out, he didn’t make it out of the third inning, giving up four runs on seven hits, including two homers in a 5-3 loss to the Angels. Naturally a night after destroying Jays pitching for 15 runs on 22 hits, Happ held the Indians down to one run on six hits in six innings in a 4-2 Blue Jays win. Only a homer by David Murphy staved off the lefty holding the Tribe scoreless.

Baseball is such a crazy game. The last time the Indians scored double figures was two weeks ago at home against the Chicago White Sox. The 12-run outburst was followed by five runs in three games. The soft tossing lefty Happ started yet another offensive skid. The big difference between the 2013 92-win club and this year’s version of the Tribe is the way they handle left-handed pitching. The magic of guys like Ryan Raburn, Nick Swisher, Yan Gomes, and Carlos Santana in their handling of southpaws has all but disappeared. It is not a good sign when your three (Raburn – who should never be hitting third) and four (Santana) hitters are hitting .181 and .158 respectively. The Indians have now been worked over by Erik Bedard and Happ in the same week. Ouch. [Read more...]

Indians 4, Twins 3: Bad defense assists Tribe walkoff win

Nyjer Morgan

For one night, the magic was back at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. All it took was the kind of shoddy defense the Indians have played all year. This time, it was their opponent who did them the favor.

Since the Eric Wedge era, we have seen plenty of Indians attempting to play positions in the field they shouldn’t be playing all in the name of more offense. Whether it be Ryan Garko in left field, Elliot Johnson in right field, or Luis Valbuena in left (my personal favorite), there have been plenty of adventures in the field that could have been avoided. The Minnesota Twins gave us one of those moments Wednesday night which would turn out to hand the Indians a 4-3 walkoff win. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Injuries change dynamic, a starter revival, freeing Lonnie, and three outs shy of a sweep

Justin Masterson

A weekend that should have been spectacular turned out to be just good with a bitter aftertaste. Home from a brutal west coast swing, the Tribe was back on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Following back-to-back wins to open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the Indians led 3-1 heading into the ninth inning Sunday afternoon as closer John Axford came on to face the White Sox 2-3-4 hitters.

They say walks will kill you and in this instance, the old adage came to fruition. With a two-run lead, Axford should have fed the ball to the slumping Gordon Beckham. Instead, he walked him on four pitches. Hard-hitting first baseman Jose Abreu had already homered twice in the series, but the Tribe’s closer came back with a big strikeout. Unfortunately, Axford did what he just cannot do: He walked the tying run, strikeout machine Adam Dunn. This brought Dayan Viciedo to the plate, one of the hottest hitters in the American League. You know what happened next.

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Tribe weekend wrap: Swept away in San Francisco

I’m pinch hitting for TD this morning with the weekend Tribe wrap-up. Lucky me, I get to recap three losses!

Cleveland Indians v San Francisco Giants

Despite a strong outing from Danny Salazar, the Indians came up short in their bid to salvage the final game in the weekend series against the Giants.

It was a miserable series for Cleveland’s position players, who were outscored by San Francisco 14-5 over the weekend. In Friday’s game the only players to get a hit were Bourn, Swisher and Kipnis. In the finale on Sunday that list included just Bourn and Gomes. The Yanimal hit the only home run of the series for the Tribe.

The telling stat for the Indians over the weekend? Try 0-for-29. That was the Tribe’s 4,5 and 6 hitters for the weekend. A big giant goose egg for 29. Those hitters were Santana, Brantley and Cabrera. It was really the first rough series for Brantley all season. He’s been very good, and you have to look at the way he was pitched to and see that the Giants decided not to give him anything he could handle. Cabrera and Santana on the other hand have been dreadful and they are bookends for Brantley. No reason to give him anything to hit at all.

Here’s where I go off on Carlos Santana because I have the floor. [Read more...]

Royals 8, Indians 2: Salazar falls apart early once again

The Indians have a problem. I won’t sit here and sugarcoat it. To me, it is a big problem. Right now 40% of their starting rotation cannot be counted on. It is one thing to not be able to pitch deep into games. It is another when said 40% can’t get out of the fifth inning on a regular basis. It is even worse when one of the two starters is being counted on to be the future of the front end.

Right now Danny Salazar is a mess. A lot of expectation was bestowed on the Tribe’s right-handed phenom after he burst onto the season with 11 starts at the end of 2013. We all know about his high-90′s fastball and the devastating change-up that come from the same arm action. What we didn’t know was how the kid would respond to being anointed the next big thing in the Indians rotation.

After lengthy bullpen work with pitching coach Mickey Callaway and conversations with both Callaway and manager Terry Francona after his last start in Detroit, Salazar was hoping to emerge as the guy we saw come up and be an instant impact a season ago.  Instead, Danny did what Danny has done thus far – look great the first time through an order before losing it.

“The first three innings he was real aggressive,” said Francona. “He stuck some fastballs and off of that he threw some really powerful breaking balls.”

But then came the fourth. [Read more...]

Tigers 7, Indians 5: Salazar’s implosion starts Tribe demise

Michael BrantleyWhat was thought to be a pitchers duel turned into something unexpected. The sun splashed afternoon at Comerica Park and Detroit had a much different feel than the frigid night before, but with Justin Verlander and Danny Salazar locking horns, the thought was that the fans in attendance would be in for a quick afternoon. What transpired was three hour and thirty-eight minute affair where neither starter pitched past the fifth.

For the first three innings, things breezed right along with Salazar and Verlander putting up zeroes. The Tribe’s phenom was actually better, setting down the first eight Tigers he faced. Offensively, the Wahoo offense continued where they left off a night earlier, leaving runners on base. A leadoff walk from Michael Bourn was wasted after Nick Swisher struck out and Jason Kipnis grounded into a double play. Two innings later, the Tribe really had Verlander on the hook. David Murphy started things with a walk, but a second double play ball – this one from Yan Gomes – erased that mini-threat. But Lonnie Chisenhall and Bourn both singled in front of a Swisher walk to load the bases. It was Kipnis’s chance to get the Tribe on the board, but he K’d on three pitches. He was clearly upset by an iffy first strike call from umpire Lance Barrett and told him so on his way to the dugout after the third strike. Barrett used an extremely quick hook, tossing Kipnis for the first time in his career. [Read more...]

White Sox 7, Indians 3: Salazar impressive yet disappointing

Danny SalazarWell, that certainly was a weird game now wasn’t it?

On their way to 92 wins and a Wild Card playoff berth a year ago, your Cleveland Indians used the Chicago White Sox as their personal punching bag. The Wahoos beat the White Sox 17 times in 19 games, including the final 14 in a row. During that stretch, they had three walkoff home runs, two by then 41-year old part time DH Jason Giambi. But it is a new year, and the new look White Sox were out to show the Tribe that they weren’t going to be pushovers this year.

The way things started off early, it looked as though more of the same was coming. Along with many other members of the Tribe elite, I openly questioned why Terry Francona has continued to use Asdrubal Cabrera as his leadoff man against left-handed pitching. The Tribe’s shortstop has looked putrid at the plate thus far, making many pine for 2015 when top prospect Francisco Lindor will assuredly take over. Naturally, Cabrera led off the game with a double high off the wall in left. After a Nick Swisher walk, Jason Kipnis continued his torrid hitting in his home city with a single to left. The ball took an awkward hop and bounced off of the hand of left fielder Alejandro De Aza, allowing Cabrera to score. A second run would come home on Ryan Raburn’s sac fly. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Opening day fun, starting pitching concerns, Vinnie’s future, and Wahoo

Jason Kipnis

If I told you the Tribe would lose two of three in Oakland to start the year and then come home to take two of three from Minnesota, I am sure many of you would have taken it. Though the opposite actually happened, the record is still the same: 3-3. The weekend series with the Twins should have turned out differently, but we witnessed lots of sloppy play and even sloppier pitching, particular from the starters. Opening Day was a success on the field once the bad weather passed. Saturday and Sunday, however, left a lot to be desired.

It is easy to jump to early conclusions. That would be irresponsible as an Indians fan. Do not forget that this was just one week; six games to be exact. There are 156 games left to be played. Things will get better, things will get worse, but one thing is for certain: A season is not shaped by April 6.

As we have done for WFNY each of the past four seasons, Monday mornings at 10 a.m. will be a look back at the good and the bad of the Tribe’s weekend series. This particular one had plenty to discuss. [Read more...]

Paternity leave, Danny Salazar, and an update on The League… While We’re Waiting

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While we’re waiting? I really left you waiting this week. Sorry for the delay. [Read more...]

Setting the lines on the 2014 Indians

Michael Bourn

It’s that time of year again! The time when Jon makes up fake gambling lines for the upcoming Indians season and then makes foolish fake prop bets on them.

As a reminder, I make stuff up, then make up more stuff, then after the season we see how I did at making stuff up.  Waste of time? Or INCREDIBLE WASTE OF TIME?  Let’s get to it. [Read more...]

Compare and contrast: Tribe today and 365 days ago

Nick SwisherWe are getting close! I don’t know about you, but I am beyond excited for Indians baseball to begin. The pieces are starting to come together. On Wednesday, the final 25-man roster was revealed. There weren’t many surprises, but there has been some small but important tinkering. When you compare this club to the one which left Goodyear for Cleveland a year ago, you can see that top to bottom, Terry Francona’s bunch looks better.

I thought a good way to view this was to lay it all out for you by groupings.  I love the Indians depth and ability to move guys all over the diamond. The bullpen looks solid. Yet, there are still concerns. But on paper, the 2014 club looks improved from this time last year.  [Read more...]

NCAA tourney, Indians pitching rotation and more with TD – WFNY Podcast – 2014-03-20

WFNY Podcast LogoFirst things first, please go vote for WFNY as a website and the WFNY podcast at Cleveland Scene Magazine’s awards.

Secondly, it’s been a bit, but it’s good to be back. I had no voice for about a week thanks to a surgical procedure, but thankfully the voice came back. With today being the start of the NCAA tourney, I just had to get resident tourney nut TD on to talk about that, plus the Tribe. Here’s some other stuff we talked about.

The first day of the NCAA tourney and Ohio State vs. Dayton

The Indians pitching rotation

The Justin Masterson contract proposal to the Tribe

Cincinnati vs. Harvard

Oregon vs. BYU

Deadspin article about oddsmakers vs. NCAA bracket builders

TD is to Kansas as Kirk Herbstreit is to Ohio State

Check out this episode!

Indians have 2nd-best catchers, FiveThirtyEight and Blake Bortles… While We’re Waiting

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FanGraphs: Indians have 2nd-best catchers, 17th-best first baseman. If you are into baseball stats, you should not only be perusing all of the tools on FanGraphs, but you also should keep an eye on their content. During the 2013 season, their writers had major crushes on both Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. Now? It appears they’re pretty high on Yan Gomes. [Read more...]