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Entries in Cleveland Indians (16)


Danny Salazar's High-Risk, High-Reward Heater

There's little subterfuge at work when Cleveland Indians rookie Danny Salazar is on the bump: He's going to try to blow you away with his heat. The 23-year-old righty's minor league career was marred by elbow injuries, but he's healthy and hurling fastballs as hard and as often as any starting pitcher in the game for the Tribe, who enter play today 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Salazar averages 95.7 MPH on the radar gun (second-highest among starters, behind Florida's Nathan Eovaldi) and throws his fastball slightly more than 72% of the time (ninth-highest).

One thing's for sure: When Salazar unleashes a fastball, something explosive is going to happen. He's getting swings and misses with the pitch like no other, but when hitters do connect, they're tagging his fastball due to his work-in-progress command.

Salazar loves to climb the ladder with his fastball, throwing the pitch in the upper third of the strike zone about 48% of the time. Among starters who have thrown at least 400 fastballs this season, just Zach McAllister (51%) and Matt Cain (49%) elevate more often.

Pitch location of Salazar's fastball

High fastballs tend to get far more whiffs (about 23% of the time that hitters swing versus starting pitchers) than middle (11%) or low heat (13%). High-velocity fastballs also make batters come up empty more often (about 19% of the time for 95+ MPH gas) than the overall MLB average (15%). Combine Salazar's tendency to locate upstairs with his nearly unparalleled velocity, and you get the best fastball miss rate in the game.

Highest fastball miss rate among SP (minimum 400 thrown)

You might have noticed something else about Salazar's fastball location, though: He tends to catch a lot of the plate. He has thrown 31% of his fastballs to the horizontal middle of the plate, far higher than the 24% average for starters. Hitters crush fastballs thrown over the fat part of the dish, slugging a collective .507 in 2013.

Salazar's command issues help explain why, despite that lofty miss rate, he has surrendered five homers and allowed batters to slug .449 on his fastball -- above the .434 average for starters. He has been plenty effective through his first seven starts even while throwing the occasional meatball, but Salazar could be downright terrifying if he starts hitting the corners with his high heat.


B. Chuck: Elvis Andrus owns the Indians

In last night's Cleveland 5-2 win over the Rangers, Elvis Andrus went 1-3 which means he has now hit in all 34 games he's played against Cleveland.

His 34-game hitting streak is tied for the second longest all-time against the Tribe.

Top 10 Longest hitting streaks against Cleveland

Rk   Strk Start End Games AB H 2B 3B HR SO BB BA Tm
1 Ken Griffey 1992-05-24 1996-08-06 35 142 55 8 1 13 29 16 .387 SEA
2 Elvis Andrus 2009-04-06 2013-06-11 34 132 50 8 1 3 18 16 .379 TEX
3 George Bell 1985-06-01 1987-08-08 34 141 55 18 1 9 11 8 .390 TOR
4 John Stone 1930-07-05 1931-09-24 27 111 49 9 3 3 4 8 .441 DET
5 Rod Carew 1972-08-21 1974-07-13 25 105 48 8 1 0 3 7 .457 MIN
6 Kirby Puckett 1991-09-02 1993-09-07 24 105 41 4 0 5 14 4 .390 MIN
7 Wayne Causey 1963-07-26 1964-08-20 23 86 37 6 0 1 6 20 .430 KCA
8 Al Simmons 1925-06-15 1926-06-12 23 95 42 7 0 4 3 7 .442 PHA
9 Harry Heilmann 1923-04-22 1924-04-16 23 90 42 8 1 3 5 8 .467 DET
10 Frank Brower 1921-06-12 1922-07-31 23 75 31 8 3 2 3 8 .413 WSH
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/12/2013.

Found: Scott Kazmir's Fastball

Last year, Scott Kazmir was nearly booted from the Sugar Land Skeeters' starting rotation -- you know, the Atlantic League team that 50-year-old Roger Clemens rolled off the couch to pitch for last summer. Kazmir, a lefty whose searing fastball racked up over a strikeout per inning and a 3.83 ERA during his Tampa Bay days, barely bested the AARP-eligible Rocket on the radar gun while getting hammered for a 5.34 ERA with the Skeeters. At age 28, his baseball epitaph appeared written.

Instead, Kazmir has seemingly been reborn in Cleveland.

His ERA (4.87) isn't sparkling, but he has punched out 25 batters in 20.1 innings pitched (11.1 K/9) so far, giving him one of the ten best K rates among starting pitchers who have tossed 20+ frames. Kazmir has reclaimed his career by throwing heat not seen since he left Tampa.

Here's more on Kazmir's fastball:

  • Kazmir is throwing his fastball at an average of 91.6 MPH in 2013, a tick faster than in 2010, and nearly six MPH faster than during the one appearance he made in 2011 before the Angels cut him loose. He has maxed out at 95.5 MPH, his best top-level velocity since he was a Ray -- and an All-Star-- in 2008 (95.7 MPH).
  • He's not afraid to challenge hitters high in the zone with his souped-up fastball. Kazmir has thrown 41% of his fastballs in the upper-third of the strike zone, well above the 34% average for MLB starters.
  • Opponents have swung at missed at Kazmir's fastball 24% of the time this season, compared to about 17% from 2009-11. The last time Kazmir's gas got so many whiffs was 2008 (also 24%). Kazmir has the sixth-highest fastball miss rate among starters in 2013 (minimum 200 thrown):

Highest fastball miss rate among SP, 2013