The Indians announced today that rookie starter Danny Salazar will be taking Ubaldo Jimenez's place in the rotation in the upcoming series against Detroit. This is a fantastic, far reaching, analytical decision that should increase the Indians odds of winning the series against the Tigers astronomically. The reasoning behind the decision should be obvious. Jimenez struggled in his last start against the Marlins, allowing the worst offense in the Major Leagues to score three runs off him as he struggled through four innings.
The logic goes much further than one start however. In 16 career games against the Tigers, Jimenez has a 5.36 ERA and has given up more walks (40) than against any other opponent since he came to Cleveland. While he did pitch better against Detroit last season (3.86 ERA, 2-2 in six starts), he has completely turned that around this year, giving up a 6.92 ERA this year in three games. The fact is that Jimenez pitches apprehensively against the Tigers, showing much (warranted) fear in front of the juggernaut of an offense that is Detroit. This keeps him from pitching inside to their power hitters, often forcing him into hitters counts (2-0, 3-1, etc) which then force him to make bad pitches in the middle of the strike zone.
On the other side of this decision is Danny Salazar. Salazar is by far the Indians top pitching prospect and was dominant in his Major League debut earlier in the season against Toronto. He threw six innings in that game and allowed just two hits while striking out seven. He did a great job mixing his pitches and keeping the Blue Jays off balance. The Indians are hoping he will be able to continue that success on the Tigers, as none of the batters have never seen him before. This season he has a 2.71 ERA and 129 strike outs in 93 innings between Akron and Columbus. He will have his work cut out for him on Wednesday, facing off against Doug Fister, but Terry Francona and the Indians think he is up to the challenge.
Salazar is set to make his second MLB appearance.