Danny Salazar was brilliant in his Major League debut for the Tribe on Thursday against Toronto. Let's take a closer look at the performance that had everyone showing a restrained excitement after five innings while trying to dance around stating (or tweeting) the fact that the 23-year-old righty had yet to allow a hit.
Salazar was slinging it at an average of 96 mph and topped out at 99, with that one coming during his sixth and final inning. He threw the hard stuff on 51 of his 89 pitches, and 76% of the fastballs were for strikes. Batters swung and missed on 10 of his fastballs (20%) and overall 18% of his pitches were swinging strikes.
A fastball like Salazar had Thursday leads to success with the off-speed offerings. Salazar threw 26 changeups (73% strikes) with an average of 87 mph and the high mark was 90. He threw 14 changeups to lefties, and they whiffed five times on it. Overall, 13 of the 16 empty swings against Salazar were by lefties, who saw 48 of his 89 pitches.
The slider will be a key, as it was described as a plus pitch. However, it was rather abandoned on Thursday. He offered five sliders, three strikes, and one whiff. It also seemed that perhaps he didn't have a feel for it. Salazar spiked a couple of them when surrendering his lone walk of the day to Rajai Davis to lead off the third.
Randazzo Breaks Up the No-No
Home plate umpire Tony Randazzo could have helped extend the hitless start by at least one batter. The 0-2 pitch to Josh Thole is that green dot you see in the bottom middle of the strike zone. It was called ball one, and Thole broke up the no-no with a single two pitches later. Sure, umpires miss strike calls all the time, but that one was particularly maddening because of the situation.
Also, a quick sidebar about those media types or otherwise who tried to avoid saying that Salazar had a no-hitter going: Sure, I am superstitious like the rest of us, but if he kept it going word was going to get out. Typically, the ESPN Scorecenter app sends a mobile alert to the whole world if a pitcher has gone seven innings without allowing a hit. Can you believe the nerve of those guys!? Yet, SHOCKINGLY-despite ESPN's best efforts to jinx it-no-hitters are STILL being thrown! In fact, Homer Bailey just threw one last week! Unbelievable. Ok, sarcastic sidebar over.
Salazar made exactly 100 career appearances in his seven-year minor league career before making his big league debut. Just one of those was a relief appearance, coming in Lake County in 2009. So, Thursday was his 100th career start...Pre-surgery: 3.50 ERA, 180 K's in 257.1 innings (6.3 K/9). Post-surgery (including Thursday): 2.69 ERA, 201 K's in 184.1 innings (9.8 K/9).
See You Next Time
Now that Salazar and his dreamy fastball have been sent down, #TribeTown will have to wait for his return. Given the health and effectiveness issues from the starting rotation this season, we probably won't have to wait too long.