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Player Profile: Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians

Salazar struggled so poorly to start the season that the Indians had to move him to the bullpen. Will he find his form again in 2018?

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Stats

Year Team IP ERA FIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB/FB Hard%
Year Team IP ERA FIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 GB/FB Hard%
2015 Indians 185.0 3.45 3.62 1.13 9.49 2.58 1.12 1.17 28.90%
2016 Indians 137.1 3.87 3.74 1.34 10.55 4.13 1.05 1.36 33.80%
2017 Indians 103.0 4.28 3.48 1.34 12.67 3.84 1.22 1.10 25.90%

Salazar’s 2017 campaign will be remembered as a bust, but it wasn’t all bad. Something I have noticed is that a lot of strikeout specialists allow a good amount of hard contact, which is overlooked due to their high K rates. I’m looking at you Robbie Ray and your 40% hard contact rate. So you may be asking yourself what this has to do with Danny Salazar? Well, in 2017 Salazar had the second best in hard contact rate among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched (I will hit on number 3 and 6 in a later post).

Now I can already hear you screaming at me about how many more strikeouts Ray will have than Salazar, and I agree that Ray will have a bunch of strikeouts due to him being ranked sixth overall in swinging strike rate among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. You know who is ranked number one though? That’s right Danny Salazar! He is the only player with at least 100 innings to have a swinging strike rate above 16%. Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying Salazar will have more strikeouts than Ray, but I will go on record and say that one of my bold predictions is Salazar finishes higher on the player rater than Ray in 2018.

Salazar did have a lot of bad luck last year as you can see from his .343 BABIP, so don’t be too afraid of the Indians’ starter. He will probably go somewhere around the 20th round in 2018 drafts. If this is the case then I can almost assure you that Salazar will be on every one of my fantasy teams come 2018. I say that because his lack of innings and 4.28 ERA will most likely scare off many fantasy owners, but his 3.48 FIP and high strikeout rate tells a different story. As long as he can cut down on his walks and continue to limit hard contact then we could see him look more like his 2015 self.