MIAMI: Danny Salazar will return to Cleveland on Wednesday to make a command performance against the Detroit Tigers.
Manager Terry Francona completed his deliberations on the Indians’ rotation and came up with this: Corey Kluber will face the Tigers today, and Justin Masterson, Salazar and Zach McAllister will follow. Ubaldo Jimenez will skip his turn and pitch Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field.
It is the first time this season that Francona has adjusted his rotation because of the importance of a series. Jimenez has been a weak link against the American League Central Division leaders from the Tigers.
“You play all year to have a series like this,” Francona said.
For his career, Jimenez is 5-9 with a 5.32 ERA and a batting average against of .279 in 16 starts. This season, Jimenez is 1-2 with a 6.92 ERA and a batting average against of .309 in three starts.
“Some of it is that,” Francona said, referring to his reasons for the move. “It’s also a chance to give him a little blow. When he has faced them, he hasn’t pitched inside well enough. When you don’t, a lot of those guys get their arms extended and beat you up.”
Francona probably was influenced by Jimenez’s last start, against the Miami Marlins on Friday night, when he gave up two earned runs (five total) and nine hits, throwing 107 pitches in four innings.
“But he pitched pretty good in the start before that,” Francona said.
Jimenez shut out the Texas Rangers for eight innings, yielding two hits and three walks in a 6-0 win July 28.
In Salazar’s major-league debut July 11, he threw a no-hitter for five innings and gave up one run and two hits in six innings, earning a 4-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
He started the season in Double-A Akron and went 2-3 with a 2.67 ERA before being promoted to Triple-A Columbus, where he is 4-2 with a 2.73 ERA. Salazar leads all minor-league pitchers (with at least 90 innings) in strikeouts with 129.
“Let’s see what the kid can do,” Francona said.
He probably will do it only once then return to Triple-A.
“That’s most likely what will happen,” Francona said. “We’re trying to balance some things with Danny: his career and us winning.”
The Tribe will clear a roster spot for Salazar after the game Tuesday night.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.