DANNY SALAZAR’S TIME TO SHINE

Well, my last post of 2014. That’s sad. Let’s all take a moment to let that sink in. Okay, that’s good. Now let us move on to Danny Salazar. Yes, Danny Salazar. Salazar will be my next piece of fantasy Kryptonite.  Kryptonite is capitalized, right? Anyways, let’s not get off topic. Danny Salazar should be pretty good and I will stand by that, even if my fantasy ERA soars into the clouds. Don’t worry; I have some stuff to back this up with. Otherwise this would be a really short little post. Am I rambling? Okay, let’s start making some points.

I will say I was a fan of Salazar coming into 2014. I mean, what wasn’t to love? Well, I’m sure there was plenty, but his 2013 numbers were still pretty sweet. In 2013 Salazar had an ERA of 3.12, a WHIP of 1.13 and a K/9 over 11. Solid numbers that landed him on many a fantasy sleeper list as 2014 drafts approached. Yes, I was not the only one on board with Salazar coming into 2014, but I had more confidence than most. However, that made me look even more foolish than most once the 2014 season was underway.

You see, the start to the 2014 season was a bit bumpy for ol’ Danny boy. Through May, Salazar had an ERA over five. Not good. In fact, Salazar was so “not good” that, in mid-May, Salazar was sent on down to Triple-A, not to be seen again until July. However, once July hit, Salazar came back and came back with a vengeance.

In July and August, Salazar toted around a sub-three ERA. Now, although you already know, I will tell you that a sub-three ERA is darned (pardon my French) good ERA. Since ERA can be a bit misleading, let’s look at the fact that Salazar’s fielding independent pitching was no higher than 3.52 from whence he was called up, until the season ended. Salazar kept and, as a matter of fact, even raised his K% over the past few months. The K-rate was never a concern, unlike his walk rate.

Salazar had some control troubles in the early goings of the 2014 season, posting a walk rate of around nine percent. Well, ya know what? Seems like Salazar’s vacation to Triple-A helped him with this control. Once Danny returned to the majors, his walk rate dropped, somewhat drastically, at first and, although it increased closer to eight in August, dropped down again in September. In fact, it dropped below six which is pretty solid. The increased control and, as such, a decrease in walks led to some nice fielding independent numbers.

Salazar finished the season strong, with a K/9 over ten, a BB% under six and a FIP and xFIP under three in September. Now, September numbers can be tough to evaluate what with expanded rosters and all, but I still think you can see Salazar’s progress and potential. Now, I’m not saying that Salazar’s September numbers will completely carry over into 2015, but it gives us a good starting point.

So, let’s start with the September numbers, but move some things more towards league average. Based on the batted ball data, we know Salazar is not a ground ball pitcher, which is why the strikeouts are key. You can expect Salazar to strikeout at least a batter an inning though, which will counteract the low ground ball rate. The question, of course, is will the strikeouts counteract the low ground ball rate enough? Well, it should, right? I mean not enough to quite give Salazar ace-like numbers, but enough to give him fantasy goodness-like numbers. What kind of fantasy goodness-like numbers? Keep reading.

In 2015 I think you can say that, with what we’ve seen from Salazar at the end of 2014, is that he can maintain a strikeout per inning and, conservatively, should be able to hold a BB/9 around three. Spectacular? Borderline good, at least. So, given this projected data that has come to light, what can we ascertain? Well, with the strikeout and walk rates and his batted ball data, I think we can expect Salazar to have an ERA hovering in the mid threes with an average WHIP of say, I dunno, 1.2o. So where does that land us for the upcoming season? Well, let’s explore that.

Salazar has the Ks locked up, but needs to keep the walks under control, which I think he will, making him a decent sleeper pick come 2015. Yes, I think Salazar’s strong advanced stat finish to 2014 will be largely ignored come draft day, meaning you should still be able to snag Salazar on the cheap. From the early predictions I have seen, Salazar will be just inside the top 250 overall, but I think come the end of the 2015 season he will end up much higher than that in the overall rankings. I’m not saying he will have a Kluber-esque rise to stardom, but I believe he ends up ranked around 150 among fantasy players come the close of 2015. I predict Salazar has an ERA just under 3.50, with WHIP around 1.20 and a K/9 in the mid-nines. Grab Salazar late and reap all the benefits.

Will Emerson

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Affectionately know by close friends as Willie Moe, Will is back living in Boston after brief, 11 year stint, in upstate New York. Will loves numbers and baseball, so it is no surprise that he has been addicted to fantasy baseball for over two decades. That’s right, Will was playing fantasy baseball since before the internet was providing up to the minute stats and standings, and you had to get your hands inky checking box scores in the newspaper.