With a bullpen for the ages already at their manager’s disposal, the Cleveland Indians have added right-handed pitcher Danny Salazar to their roster for the upcoming World Series against the Chicago Cubs.
In a move that corresponds with the addition of Salazar, the Indians have subtracted Cody Anderson from the active roster. Anderson, though active for the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox and American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, did not see any playing time this October.
The 31-year-old Salazar has spent the entirety of his four-year major-league career with the Indians, and 2016 marks the first year that the hurler’s big-league tenure has been disrupted by injury. In early August, Salazar landed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation that kept him sidelined for about two weeks and later hit the shelf in September due to a strained forearm. All in all, the injuries limited Salazar, who logged 185 innings in 30 starts for the Tribe in 2015, to only 137.1 innings across 25 outings this year and have prevented him from joining the Indians’ postseason roster until now.
Salazar reportedly tossed three innings in a simulated game on Sunday, and Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway suggested the right-hander could throw four innings, or roughly 70 pitches, if needed. With that in mind, perhaps Salazar would be better suited to work as a reliever, although the Indians’ already-stout bullpen hampers that idea.
Indians manager Terry Francona has had a tight leash on his starters throughout the postseason, meaning that instead of making his pitchers grind through tough at-bats and pitch to the opposing batting order more than twice around, he pulls his starters in the middle innings in favor of his relief corps, a group that has been solid all month.
Captained by ALCS Most Valuable Player Andrew Miller and a supporting cast of Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, Dan Otero, Mike Clevinger, Jeff Manship, and Zach McAllister, Cleveland’s bullpen has collectively pitched to a staggering 1.36 earned run average over 33 innings of work this postseason.
With Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin lined up to respectively start the first three games of the series, Salazar, rookie left-hander Ryan Merritt, and Kluber — who would be on short rest — are in the mix to garner an opportunity to start Game 4. Who ultimately starts the game will depend on the Indians’ position in the best-of-seven series when it comes time for the fourth game on Saturday night.