What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s action

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Wednesday’s games kicked off early with a noon start between the Red Sox and Rays, followed shortly thereafter by the Cubs and Reds, as well as the Marlins and Tigers.

The Indians sent their winning streak to 11 games on Tuesday night, besting the Braves 5-3 behind eight strong innings from Corey Kluber and a two-hit, two-RBI performance from Jose Ramirez. As the Royals lost to the Cardinals, the Indians increased their first place lead in the AL Central to six games. Danny Salazar, who has the second-lowest ERA among qualified American League starters, will start for the Tribe tonight against the Braves’ Joel de la Cruz in a 7:10 PM EDT start at Turner Field.

Salazar’s success thus far is a bit baffling. While he’s striking out a bunch of batters — his 28.3 percent strikeout rate is seventh best among all qualified starters in baseball — he’s also walking a bunch of them, too. His 12.3 percent walk rate represents a 50 percent increase over his career average and is five percent higher than his rate in any of the previous three seasons. Only Francisco Liriano (14.1) and Tom Koehler (12.5) have a higher walk rate.

There are other factors to Salazar’s success. His 48 percent ground ball rate is up five percent over last year, which has factored into a lower batting average on balls in play (.249), yielding fewer home runs (six), and stranding more runners (84.1 percent). If one is going to walk a bunch of batters, it’s great to pair that up with a solid ground ball rate. While I am doubtful of Salazar’s ability to maintain this level of pitching over the rest of the season, regression probably isn’t going to hit him tonight against the Braves, who have baseball’s worst offense.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez) @ Colorado Rockies (Tyler Anderson), 3:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 3:35 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Yovani Gallardo) @ San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich), 3:40 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Zach Eflin) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley), 3:40 PM EDT

New York Mets (Logan Verrett) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Nick Martinez) @ New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka), 7:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Brock Stewart) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra), 8:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Ricky Nolasco) @ Chicago White Sox (James Shields), 8:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez), 8:15 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy) @ Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea), 10:05 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Jameson Taillon) @ Seattle Mariners (Wade Miley), 10:10 PM EDT