CLEVELAND -- The Indians' next-man-up mentality is being tested once again. As Cleveland continues to fight for a second straight American League Central crown, it has lost a pair of important arms to the disabled list.Prior to Tuesday's game against the Red Sox, relief ace Andrew Miller (right knee patella
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' next-man-up mentality is being tested once again. As Cleveland continues to fight for a second straight American League Central crown, it has lost a pair of important arms to the disabled list.
Prior to Tuesday's game against the Red Sox, relief ace Andrew Miller (right knee patella tendinitis) and starter Danny Salazar (right elbow inflammation) were placed on the 10-day DL. Miller exited Monday's 5-4 win over Boston after his knee issue flared up, and Salazar was roughed up in an abbreviated outing against the Royals on Sunday.
"This is a good team," Miller said. "No one person can bring this team down. We saw that last year. I think these guys will find a way to persevere, and I want to be able to get out there and join them as soon as possible."
To help the bullpen, the Indians summoned right-hander Shawn Armstrong from Triple-A Columbus. Yandy Diaz, who can play third base and the corner-outfield spots, was also called up from Columbus. Diaz provides some insurance for the Tribe one day after Carlos Santana exited with back tightness.
In only his second appearance since being activated from the DL on Friday, Miller threw only fastballs and had all seven pitches fall in the 88-92 mph range. That drop in velocity was an immediate red flag for Miller, who said he felt discomfort in his knee early on in the outing. After his last pitch to Andrew Benintendi, Miller walked off the mound in obvious pain and left the game.
Miller was on the DL for 16 days due to the same knee problem, which is rare for a baseball player. Indians manager Terry Francona noted that the issue is more common in the NBA, so the team's medical staff has contacted the Cavs' medical personnel in an effort to gather more information and advice on how to treat the injury.
"Our medical people are starting to put their heads together," Francona said. "We reached out to the Cavs just to see if they've had something similar, who they reached out to, things like that. Because really, the best diagnosis is rest. I don't think Andrew or us really wants to just [let it be]. He wants to see if he can be proactive."
In 48 games this season, Miller has a 1.65 ERA with 79 strikeouts against 17 walks in 54 2/3 innings.
Miller said he did not have a clear answer as to whether he came off the DL too early.
"With all the information and all the feedback I was given," Miller said, "I felt like we had a pretty good plan in place."
Salazar, who was on the DL from June 4-July 22 with a right shoulder issue, allowed six runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings on Sunday in Kansas City. In his previous five outings after being activated, the right-hander had gone 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA with 46 strikeouts and nine walks in 32 1/3 innings. After his start against the Royals, Salazar said he did not have the same "power" on his fastball.
Francona said Salazar still felt "stiffness" in his elbow while throwing a side session on Tuesday and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam.
"When he's not feeling good, it hinders the effectiveness," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "He should never give up 12 hits -- ever. It's just tough to pitch that way and us, as a team, we need an effective starter out there."
With Salazar sidelined, Cleveland will plan on promoting lefty Ryan Merritt from Triple-A Columbus on Friday to start against the Royals. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (10-day DL, left hamstring) will make a Minor League rehab start on Friday with the goal of then slotting back into the Indians' rotation.
"When you've got a guy like Tomlin coming back, that certainly helps," Francona said. "There's so much belief in him. He wanted to pitch Friday for us. I don't think any of us thought that was fair. He needs to go out and, even if it's in an A-ball game, just get some ups and downs in a game and then he should be ready to go."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
While Miller (1.65 ERA, 0.79 WHIP) is one of the top relievers in baseball, he can be dropped in 10- and 12-team leagues. Even if the left-hander is able to move past his lingering knee injury and return before the postseason, he's unlikely to provide many wins or saves the rest of the way. Salazar, though, should be stashed in most formats. The righty possesses excellent fantasy upside, which he demonstrated by posting a 2.68 ERA with a 12.4 K/9 rate over his past six starts. Miller owners can check waivers for a replacement such as Brad Ziegler, Archie Bradley or Cam Bedrosian, while Salazar owners can take a look at Luis Castillo, Luke Weaver and Patrick Corbin.
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.