Salazar’s command hasn’t been there in the early going (Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images)
For the first three innings Danny Salazar was efficient, threw a lot of strikes, and missed a lot of bats. However, near the end of the fourth inning he lost command of his fastball. The command issues got even worse in the fifth inning as he started the inning by walking Alex Avila and Alex Gonzalez on 10 pitches1.
After the first two walks he fell behind in counts and eventually the hitters started to barrel him up. Salazar’s raw stuff is so good that he has one of the highest fantasy ceilings, but if his command doesn’t improve he is going to be maddening to own. Next week he’s a two start pitcher with two extremely favorable matchups: home against the Royals then at the Giants. If I owned him in a deep league I would roll the dice and start him, but if I was in a 10-team mixed I would probably keep him on my bench (unless you’re in H2H and you’ve either won or lost ERA by the time the Giants start comes around).
Despite a very good statistical start to the season, I’m not buying Kyle Gibson. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats and walks too many guys (eight walks in 11 innings). He generates a ton of ground balls (56%) and since he doesn’t strike anyone out he is going to be reliant on his defense to make outs, which means he’ll be more BABIP-dependent from start-to-start. Gibson is only a spot starter in leagues as shallow as a 12-team mixed.
Blue Jays Notes
R.A. Dickey gave up five earned runs, walked five and allowed seven hits in 4.1 innings against the Twins. On the surface the five walks would indicate he didn’t have good command of his knuckleball, but for the most part he did. That changed in the fifth inning. After striking out the first batter he proceeded to give up five hits in a row. In 23 innings this year he’s allowed 23 hits and 15 walks and has looked bad in three of his four starts. The teams that have hit him hard are teams that are patient and take a lot of pitches. When he’s in two strike counts batters are not chasing the knuckle ball on the outer half of the strike zone.
By all accounts Dickey is healthy and the velocity on his knuckleball is normal so maybe his performance will improve, but next week he faces both the Orioles and Red Sox at home. In the preseason I was a big believer in Dickey as I projected him to have a 3.50 ERA with 220-plus innings. While it’s only been four starts, I don’t recommend starting him.
Casey Janssen started the season on the DL with lower back problems. He has been rehabbing, but he will be shut down for the next few days with lower-back soreness. Anyone who has lower back pain knows you can only manage back pain and that it will never fully go away. Sergrio Santos’ fantasy owners should continue to hold on to him even after Janssen comes back because I wouldn’t be surprised if Janssen makes another trip to the DL.
Yesterday Trevor Bauer, in Triple-A, threw six scoreless innings while striking out nine and allowing only six base runners (one walk). Bauer is going to be in the majors sooner rather than later. First of all, he’s throwing strikes consistently and is not walking batters. In his only major league start the biggest change I noticed was his delivery was more repeatable and more balanced, which allowed him to throw strikes consistently while still missing bats. Pitching mechanics guru Doug Thorburn recently went into greater detail about the positive changes in Bauer’s mechanics, which leads me to believe the numbers he’s putting up in the minors and the results in the majors are both repeatable.
Bauer is currently in the minors, but his only roadblock to joining the rotation is Carlos Carrasco, who is not good. Since 2013 Carrasco has a 6.95 ERA and 1.75 WHIP. If the Indians have any playoff aspirations Bauer is going to have to be in their rotation. If you can afford to use a roster spot on him you should pick him up because the tremendous upside he showed as the third overall pick in 2011 draft is still there.  Why any pitcher would not attack minor league hitters such as Avila and Gonzalez makes no sense to me.