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Salazar's return has boosted Indians' rotation

Club can focus on other needs at Trade Deadline
MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- Danny Salazar wants to be the midseason acquisition that the Indians need for their rotation. In his two starts since coming off the disabled list, the pitcher has flashed his powerful fastball and trap-door changeup, doing his part to shore up the starting staff.

That continued Friday, when Salazar carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and set the tone for Cleveland in a 9-3 victory over the White Sox. Salazar's return has come during what is now a season-high eight-game winning streak for the Indians, who look less and less like a team that needs to ship away prospects for a front-line starter before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

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CHICAGO -- Danny Salazar wants to be the midseason acquisition that the Indians need for their rotation. In his two starts since coming off the disabled list, the pitcher has flashed his powerful fastball and trap-door changeup, doing his part to shore up the starting staff.

That continued Friday, when Salazar carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and set the tone for Cleveland in a 9-3 victory over the White Sox. Salazar's return has come during what is now a season-high eight-game winning streak for the Indians, who look less and less like a team that needs to ship away prospects for a front-line starter before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

View Full Game Coverage

Salazar's showing may convince the front office to shift its focus to other aspects of the roster.

"That's what I'm trying to do right now," Salazar said. "I'm focusing on that. I'm focused on my job and on my routine. I'm trying to do the same thing every single day and trying to stay healthy, and stay strong so I can do my job out there. And so that way, we don't need to bring anybody else."

Over six-plus innings, Salazar limited the White Sox to a two-run homer by Matt Davidson, whose blast ended the pitcher's outing in the seventh. By that point, Cleveland had built a considerable lead, so the shot to the left-field stands hardly marred Salazar's day. In two starts after nearly a two-month hiatus due to a right shoulder injury, Salazar has allowed two runs on four hits with 16 strikeouts and two walks in 13 innings.

In his latest effort, not only did Salazar strike out eight batters, but he generated a season-high 23 swinging strikes, per Statcast™. That fell one shy of Corey Kluber's single-game team high of 24 (June 1). The constant swinging and missing was in stark contract to Chicago's pitchers, who combined for only five swinging strikes against the Indians on Friday night.

Tweet from @MLBastian: White Sox are 0-for-9 vs. Danny Salazar through 3 innings, and he has already generated 12 swinging strikes: pic.twitter.com/yioHaRSBO6

"Danny threw great the last two starts," Indians first baseman Carlos Santana said. "I'm very relieved for that. We need Danny."

With Salazar back, the Indians are dealing with a bit of a rotation conundrum.

A few weeks ago, Cleveland's primary need appeared to be a starter behind ace Kluber and righty Carlos Carrasco. Inconsistency plagued the rest of the staff, Salazar was shelved with the injury and the Indians popped up in reports as a potential suitor for A's starter Sonny Gray, among others. Now, though, the rotation has been on a strong roll.

When Salazar back, Cleveland announced that it would stick with a six-man staff one time through, giving Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger a start apiece before moving one of those four starters to the bullpen. Given the success of the past week, manager Terry Francona noted before Friday's game that the Indians would continue on with a six-man rotation on the current road trip.

Tribe sticking with six-man rotation for now

"We feel like we're competing against each other," Salazar said. "You don't want to go out there and be the guy that ruined the streak. So, that's what we're doing right now. We're working. We're competing as players, as a team, against us and against the other teams, too."

That has been a great development for the Indians.

And it could influence how the team approaches the Trade Deadline.

"It's like you make a trade for a front-line starter," said Francona, referring to Salazar's comeback. "We didn't have him for [much of] the first half. It's really welcome."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Danny Salazar