Give it enough time and eventually most key players in fantasy baseball will move from one extreme to the other in terms of yours truly's opinion of their abilities. Such has been the case with hard-throwing Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar who has certainly made that journey since 2014. Back in 2014, Salazar was a guy I was as high on as any young pitcher in the game as his 100-mph fastball and knee-buckling offspeed stuff screamed out "future ace." After some initial struggles, Salazar seemed to be making good on that prediction as he put forth a dominant 2015 campaign where he pitched to a 3.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and struck out 195 batters in just 185 innings. Perhaps even more impressive was Salazar's 2.58 BB/9 rate which was an excellent improvement from the struggles that undermined him earlier. As a result of that performance, Salazar became a highly sought after ace-like pitcher for 2016 fantasy baseball and his price reflected that in drafts.
Unfortunately Salazar's upward rise to apparent stardom was derailed last season as his old control woes resurfaced to the tune of a nasty 4.13 BB/9 rate and that was reflected in his WHIP shooting way up to an ugly 1.34. Even Salazar's ERA was not immune to going the other way as it rose to 3.87. While those were all decent negatives, Salazar's biggest red flag was the fact his penchant for injuries resurfaced again as he dealt with shoulder and elbow problems early in the season and then was shut down with scary forearm soreness. While no surgery was needed, Salazar has more than earned the label of being injury-prone for 2017 and his struggles with control again make him a dicey investment. Yes he his still just 27 and has also remains a 100-mph flamethrower but Salazar's draft price has not fallen enough to not make him one of the biggest injury risks in 2017 fantasy baseball.
Again yours truly has been a very big Salazar booster in the past but this time around I will most likely take a pass given the injury threat and the struggle to harness his stuff. Salazar has a rough delivery that puts undue stress on his shoulder/elbow and that makes him a prime Tommy John surgery candidate. Last season's forearm strain hinted at this as well and so that alone makes him one to avoid.
2017 PROJECTION: 11-8 3.65 ERA 1.27 WHIP 178 K