After Trevor Bauer started last night, it was all but a guarantee that Danny Salazar would get the start on Thursday. Terry Francona has now made it official:
Tito just announced that Salazar will start Thursday— Mark Emery (@Mark_Emery) July 9, 2013
Because the Indians have only four games between Salazar's start and the All-Star, the start will be a one-off thing. There's a possibility that Zach McAllister will be activated by the time that spot comes up again, or perhaps the Indians will have acquired a starter via trade by then (perhaps with Salazar as the main prospect going the other way).
So who is Danny Salazar? He's one of the best pitching prospects in the organization, just below Trevor Bauer. He missed over a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery (2011), but is still only 23 years old. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s along with a decent changeup and slider. He started this season in Akron, was quickly promoted to Columbus, and has dominated opposing hitters in 42.1 innings (10 starts). The one downside to Salazar is that he doesn't go deep into games, with part of that because of the previous arm injury. Salazar only threw 87.2 innings last year, and the Indians are trying to be very cautious with his innings this year. So they've strictly limited his pitches per start, pulling him out in the fourth or fifth inning with regularity.
But those pitch limits haven't prevented him from earning accolades from inside and outside the organization. In Baseball America's midseason review, Salazar was named one of 10 Breakthrough Prospects ($), and presumably would be included in BA's Top 100 Prospects had the list come out this week. In last week's Prospects That Matter midseason update, Salazar was included in the Prospects That Really Matter category. With both Carrasco and Bauer struggling in their big-league opportunities this season, Salazar is now on the doorstep of pitching for the Indians.
If the Indians do end up acquiring another pitcher for the rotation, Salazar could go to the bullpen and help there, as his stuff is certainly good enough to for even a late-inning role. Or he could be used to acquire the pitching help the Indians need right now. So whether you view Salazar as the future or just a trade chip, you'll want to tune Thursday afternoon to see him pitch in the majors for the first time.