It’s been quite the topsy-turvy road for Danny Salazar in 2014. He was a trendy sleeper at draft time then an unmitigated bust for the first two month of the season, which led to him getting dropped by fantasy owners everywhere. Eventually, the Cleveland Indians followed suit, sending Salazar to the minors for more seasoning.
Now, he’s back and actually, not pitching that bad.
Danny Salazar Since Getting Called Back Up
|at Kansas City||7||7||0||3||7||W||3.86||1.00|
Since he’s scheduled to start today, now seems like as good a time as any to look at his fantasy value.
We’ll get to the negatives in a bit, but one of them relates to the teams he faced in that run. The Twins, Royals, and Rangers don’t exactly remind anyone of the 1927 Yankees. Where’s the positive in this? Well, the remaining opponents aren’t exactly a gauntlet either.
- at Cincinnati
- vs. Arizona
- at Minnesota
- vs. Houston
- at Kansas City
- vs. Detroit
- vs. Minnesota
- at Detroit
- at Minnesota
- vs. Kansas City
Of course, this assumes Salazar stays healthy and starts every fifth game for the Indians. If that does happen, I’m looking at two starts that really scare me. The first is when he faces Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers. The second is when he faces Victor Martinez and the Tigers.
Aside from those two games, I see a lot of average (or worse) offenses. From that respect, Salazar has an edge.
The other huge positive is the strikeout rate — 8.5 hitters per nine innings. If history is any indicator, that number won’t be going down any time soon.
- Throughout his career in the minors, Salazar struck out 8.4 hitters per nine with most of the more modest totals coming early in his career.
- When he was called up to the Indians in 2013, Salazar struck out 11.3 hitters per nine innings.
- Even as he struggled in the early part of 2014, Salazar struck out 10.4 hitters per nine innings.
We’re generally looking at great strikeout rates. If Salazar does make all 10 of those starts and averages six innings, that probably means somewhere between 60-75 strikeouts, reduced a little bit if you bench him against the Tigers.
The potential is there for great numbers, just like we saw in the second half of 2013 from Salazar.
One negative really jumps out at me. Unfortunately, it’s not a small one.
Those walks need to come down. Now, he hasn’t dealt with serious control issues throughout much of his professional career, but 2014 has been a different issue.
Danny Salazar 2014 Walk Rate
|MLB -- Pre Demotion||40.2||17||3.8|
|MLB -- Post Demotion||18||6||3.0|
Now, the 3.0 rate since getting called back up is manageable, but that number is a little skewed by not walking anyone in those two starts. In the other two starts, the BB/9 is 4.9.
Generally speaking, there is only one way to have trouble against bad offenses — walking hitters. Bad offenses are generally bad because the hitters aren’t that great but if you can’t throw strikes, anyone can get on base.
My biggest reservation about adding Salazar stems from this inconsistency. If he throws strikes, his stuff is easily good enough to have great numbers. If not, it can get ugly.
What to do
Danny Salazar: Rest of 2014 Projection
The risks and rewards are pretty clear. Overall, I’d say those numbers are pretty reasonable. I certainly didn’t go over the top with any optimism or pessimism.
It all comes down to what you need, and what your instincts tell you.
Based on what I’ve said and what you know about Danny Salazar, I’d use those numbers as a barometer. If you think the chances are better that he’ll fall short of those numbers, I’d leave him on the waiver wire. If, however, you think that the odds are with him to equal or exceed those numbers, then Salazar is worth the add.