Cleveland Indians find replacement for injured ace

Zach McAllister to start in place of Justin Masterson.
MCT Regional News
Jul 10, 2014

With Justin Masterson on the disabled list with right knee inflammation, the Indians are in need of a starting pitcher for Saturday’s home game against the Chicago White Sox.

Zach McAllister will be that guy, the Indians announced on Wednesday.

Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Saturday is McAllister’s regularly scheduled day to pitch, but it’s not like he hasn’t earned the call.

McAllister hit the disabled list May 22 with lower back soreness. In six Triple-A starts following the injury, McAllister is 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA. He struck out 34 batters in 36 innings, walking seven and allowing two home runs.

Through 10 major-league starts to begin the season, McAllister has a 5.89 ERA, but his peripheral statistics painted a much brighter picture. He was striking out batters at a career-high pace with his walk, groundball and home run rates right in line with his career averages.

It was not intended for McAllister to stay in Triple-A for so long before rejoining the team. He was actually activated June 18 to make a start at home against the Los Angeles Angels, but that game was rained out.

Since then, the schedule has worked out in such a way that the Indians haven’t always needed a fifth starter, and when they did, it was T.J. House.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s been the easiest thing for Zach,” Francona said. “He wants to be here. But I think he’s done a really good job of not letting that affect his pitching. And that’s what you ask a guy to do. Sometimes it’s harder to do that than just saying it. But he’s handled it really well and now he comes back and pitches for us, and that was the goal, anyway.”

The question before the Indians announcement was whether McAllister or Danny Salazar would make the start.

Salazar, of course, lit the world on fire through his first 10 professional starts last season. However, Salazar, 24, struggled with his command through eight starts to begin the 2014 season, as increased walk and home run rates led to a 5.53 ERA.

More of the same was the case for Salazar through his first six Triple-A starts, allowing a home run in each one and walking four batters per nine, to the tune of a 5.65 ERA.

His last two homerless starts have been far more encouraging.

“[Indians scouting director] John Mirabelli said that his last outing was almost kind of reminiscent of the guy we called up last year in the way he’s throwing,” Francona said. “So that’s really good to see.”

Though Salazar won’t be coming up for Saturday’s start, Francona hinted that the Indians will need a second starter for a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on July 19. With continued success at the minor-league level, Salazar could get the call.

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By August Fagerstrom - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

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