If you made it big in the restaurant business, you got a Chef’s Table.
At Fantasy Alarm we have one too. Expect here you don’t need a reservation. Or a fat stack to pay for it.
The best part about the Chef’s Table is that you get to watch the preparation of your food from start to finish. Seeing every intricate detail that goes into your dish while enjoying the company of family and friends. Well, that’s what I’m gonna give you here.
Each week I will profile a player based on increased street cred throughout the industry. Whether because of a recent hot streak, increased playing time or a promotion because of an injury. From there I will break down the recipe for that player’s success and determine if he is just a flash in the pan or someone who is gonna bring home the bacon.
Entering the 2014 season, Salazar was among the top up-in-coming starting pitchers in all of baseball. In fact, his name was thrown around in the 200 strikeout discussions, while being viewed as the Indians future ace. However, things did not turn out as planned for Salazar and his fantasy owners in the early going.
After starting out the season 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA through his first seven starts, the Indians ended up sending their top pitching prospect back to the minor leagues, where he would be able to work out the kinks and rediscover his command. An even bigger problem than his command (17 BB through 40.2 IP) was his issue with the long ball. Before being sent down to Triple-A, Salazar surrendered eight home runs to his opposition, which breaks down to one home run every five innings pitched. That was certainly not going to win over the clubhouse out the gates.
Once back at Triple-A Columbus things didn’t get any better for this 24-year-old hurler, owning a 4.02 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 4.7 BB/9 through 10 starts, including a short stint on the disabled list. Despite struggling early on, Salazar was able to put it all together over his final four games before rejoining the Indians, allowing just five earned runs over 23.2 innings while owning a decent 24:14 K:BB rate. Although even on his best day he struggled with his command, the Indians eventually came calling and now his critics have quieted as he has finally started to live up to the hype.
Since rejoining the Indians starting rotation, Salazar has allowed three runs or less in each of his last three starts, while maintaining a 17:6 K:BB rate, having yet to allow a home run. While this is nice to see from him, there are still some red flags that need to be examined. When he first made his presence felt in the second half of 2013, Salazar was a fresh face that was able to use his over-powering fastball (96.2 MPH) to control his opposition, but has since dropped over two MPH, on average in his time on the mound this season (94.2 MPH), but has thrown that pitch more than 75 percent of the time. While that is all fine and dandy when on top of your game, if you are struggling with your command that could be a nightmare. Especially when you are a fly ball pitcher.
To add to his drop in velocity, Salazar has also lowered his ground ball-to-fly ball rate, which was already bad, to 0.56 on the season. Mix that with a lack of command and a tendency to give up the long ball and that turns into a recipe for disaster. Even with all the negatives at the age of 24, there is still a lot to like from who most feel will be the Indians future No. 2 pitcher behind Corey Kluber once he puts it all together.
Although his strikeout numbers are down from a season ago, he is still averaging over one strikeout per inning pitch (9.82 K/9), which in the very least can give you a boost in one category, even if his ratio stats aren’t the best. Taking into consideration the mess we call the Indians starting rotation, outside of Kluber, there are a lot of question marks and not a lot of pitchers to answer to them. With that said, even if Salazar was to struggle in the upcoming weeks it is hard to believe that he will find himself back in the minor leagues at any point in 2014.
After a solid start following his return to the big leagues, Salazar’s ownership has finally started to the get respect it deserves. He is currently sitting at less than 40 percent owned throughout the major providers and with his high upside, could be a great find this late in the year, considering he was likely dropped by the team’s that drafted him after a dreadful start. In the very least he will offer strikeout help, but if he continue to build off of what he has started since his return, there is a chance he lives up to the hype.
Until next time, study hard and eat plenty!