Despite striking out 120 batters in 110 innings as a 24-year-old last season the Indians sent Danny Salazar to Triple-A at the end of spring training. They quickly realized their mistake, calling him back up two weeks into the season, and he’s been dominant ever since.
Sunday afternoon Salazar gave up a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier and then retired 21 consecutive Twins hitters on the way to seven innings of one-run, one-hit ball with 11 strikeouts and zero walks against one of the hottest-hitting lineups in baseball. For the season he has a 3.27 ERA and 48/5 K/BB ratio in 33 innings, which is incredible.
At age 25 he has a a 3.78 ERA with 233 strikeouts in 195 career innings, for a rate of 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Among all active starters that ranks as the highest strikeout rate through age 25:
Danny Salazar 10.8
Yu Darvish 10.4
Stephen Strasburg 10.3
Jose Fernandez 10.3
Tim Lincecum 10.2
Decent company to keep.
Control was always an issue for Salazar, but of late he’s been pounding the strike zone, trusting his top-notch raw stuff, and relying more and more on a split-finger changeup that induces tons of swinging strikes. And he’s emerging as a 25-year-old ace. Not bad for a guy the Indians deemed not worthy of cracking the Opening Day rotation for a team that currently has the second-worst ERA and worst record in the league.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.