After much consternation, the wait looks like it’s over as Danny Salazar says he will be included on Cleveland’s World Series roster.
Salazar was placed on the disabled list back on August 2 with right-elbow inflammation. After a precautionary MRI showed that he had no structural damage, the chance of him coming back this season remained high.
After a five-start return from the disabled list, Salazar started citing similar issues, and ended up back on the disabled list on September 9. Salazar hasn’t pitched in a game since then, but that isn’t keeping Cleveland from reportedly making the decision to include him on their active roster for the biggest series of their season.
The 26-year old right-hander was a key contributor to Cleveland’s postseason chances prior to his injury. Overall, Salazar pitched 137.1 innings with a FIP of 3.74 and an elite strikeout rate of 27.6 percent this season.
It is unclear in what capacity Salazar will be used by Cleveland. However, with the bullpen ticking right along, and the starting rotation short of personnel, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Salazar isn’t used as a starter. If Salazar is worthy of including on a postseason roster, it will likely be in his most effective role: as a starter. While his pitch count might be watched closely by skipper Terry Francona, Salazar can generate swings and misses at an elite rate, and optimizing that workload could be key against the Cubs’ bats.
With Trevor Bauer still nursing a finger injury, and the rotation relying on Ryan Merritt (he of 11 career innings prior to the ALCS) for a start, Salazar’s abilities are best used in as many innings as possible. If he does happen to falter, Francona can go right to his ALCS game 3 game plan—a game in which no pitcher recorded more than five outs for Cleveland—and roll with his unbelievably lockdown bullpen that includes Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and Bryan Shaw.
The World Series begins Tuesday evening and the Cubs have a roster decision of their own to make: whether or not to include the rehabilitating Kyle Schwarber on the roster.