Player Background

Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent in 2006, Salazar struggled his first few years in A-ball before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2010. The Indians took it slow with Salazar, waiting a full 12 months after surgery before letting him see game action again. The Indians continued to proceed with caution in 2012, limiting the young right-hander to just 87 2/3 innings between stops at Single- and Double-A. Finally, in 2013, the Indians increased his workload and after 93 innings in the upper minors, where he posted an impressive 12.5 K/9 and 5.38 K:BB ratio, Salazar was called up by Cleveland in July. Salazar was impressive in his big-league debut, limiting the Blue Jays to two hits and one run over six innings while striking out seven and walking just one to notch his first win. He struck out 10 in his next start, and stayed in the Cleveland rotation the rest of season, logging 52 innings while posting a solid 3.12 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, and 65-to-15 K:BB ratio. On the heels of his 2013 performance, the talented righty was picked by many fantasy experts to be a breakout performer in 2014, but that prediction never materialized, as Salazar had quite the roller-coaster season. Mechanical issues plagued Salazar in the early season, and he was sent to down to Triple-A in May. When Justin Masterson landed on the DL in July, Salazar was recalled and pitched well, showing some semblance of the pitcher who drew raves in 2013. Fast forward to 2015, and Salazar is looking to rebound and fulfill his promise as a frontline starter for the Tribe this season.

What Went Right in 2014

After his return from the minor league DL with a triceps injury in June, Salazar put together a string of five consecutive strong starts for Triple-A Columbus, where he struck out 39 batters over 31 innings with a 2.32 ERA and was called back up by the Indians in July to replace Masterson in the rotation. Salazar ended up putting together a solid second half in 12 starts, posting a 3.50 ERA, 1.240 WHIP, and 73-to-18 K:BB ratio over 69 1/3 innings. His improved velocity and command after he was recalled from Triple-A was certainly an encouraging sign.

What Went Wrong in 2014

After a rough start to the season, 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA after eight starts and his velocity down, Salazar was sent to Triple-A in mid-May to work on mechanical issues. He did not fare any better in his first three starts following his demotion posting a 0-3 record with a 7.11 ERA and subsequently put on the DL and missed 15 days with the aforementioned triceps injury. His BABIP with Cleveland also jumped 43 points from the previous season, to a robust .344 mark.

What to Expect in 2015

The table below reflects what PECOTA expects from Salazar in 2015:








159 2/3







PECOTA is expecting a bounce back season for Salazar, but the K/9 and K/BB rates to be similar to 2014 (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Despite Salazar’s 4.25 ERA a season ago, his FIP was 3.52 so PECOTA is predicting the ERA should normalize a bit in 2015. Salazar’s current NFBC ADP is 230, which is 57th among starting pitchers, and he was pick no. 214 in the LABR Mixed League Draft. Both draft positions could be strong value plays if Salazar can build off his promising second half to 2014.

The Great Beyond

It’s difficult to predict the future of a starting pitcher who has only started 30 games over two big league seasons, especially for a pitcher who has shown inconsistency over those 30 starts. However, Salazar’s second half numbers bring promise that the mechanical issues that hampered him n the first half were corrected, and his average fastball will continue to hover around the 95-plus-mph range. His 4.06 K:BB ratio in his last 12 starts was similar to his 2013 clip, and consistent with his minor-league career scan post Tommy John surgery (minus those first few starts to begin 2014 where the mechanical flaws surfaced). The Indians would like to see Salazar develop a third pitch and cut down on his FB rates a tad, but it’s hard not to like his live arm. If the mechanics remain sound, combined with his swing and miss stuff, Salazar could be a top-30 fantasy pitcher in 2015.

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Does Salazar get hit so hard because of poor location or lack of movement with his fastball?
Hi jjackhammers,
Thanks for reading the profile on Salazar.

Salazar's issues appear to take place the third time around the opposing line-up. Opposing hitters slash .224/.289/.370 in their first PA against Salazar, .254/.308/.363 in their second plate appearance, then a robust .328/.374/.555 in their third time facing him. Salazar had a tendency to rely too much on his fastball last year, and that's when he got himself in trouble. He has two very good pitches (his split-change can be lethal) but needs to trust his other pitches more, and if he does, that should lead to better numbers.
Derek Holland or Salazar this year? Thanks for the article.
Hi sldetckl16,
Thanks for reading and commenting!

While I like both Salazar and Holland this year, I like Holland more. He looked very good last year when he returned from his knee injury and we saw what he did in 2013. I bought Holland for $12 in the CBS AL-Only auction and was very happy to get him at that price.
Thanks, Keith. Really appreciate the response.
Thanks for the article on Salazar. I own him in an AL only format at $7. His spring outings thus far have not been promising, but I have another week before I have to make a decision on him.
Hi Joho16,
Thanks for commenting!

I like that price for Salazar in AL-Only.
Thanks! Appreciate the help. Might be worth a shot!