Remember when the Indians demoted Danny Salazar to Triple-A? He’s back and dominating

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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.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”