Of all of the teams competing in the American League, few can claim as key of losses as the Cleveland Indians can regarding their starting rotation. They have lost not one but two key members of their starting staff as both Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir have taken their starting talents elsewhere. The number of wins that is would cripple many starting rotations and it just might do that to the Indians. To say the least they have something to prove.
Whether or not the Indians will be able to prove better than last season will depend largely on their ace and possibly even more on the young prospective stars of their rotation. It is completely possible that the starting five of the Tribe will change around mid-season. If young Trevor Bauer can prove he is ready before the all-star break you might see him take a spot if someone is lagging behind but the key to it all will be Danny Salazar.
Last season Salazar was able to achieve a couple of wins but it is his promising make-up and 3.12 ERA that most will matter. Going into this season the Indians have little guaranteed in their starting five because of what they lost. Salazar being able to produce double digit wins plus could be the difference right in the middle of the rotation that will drive them over the top in 2014.
Of course he won’t do it by himself but Salazar has ace-level potential within him right now. If he can emerge as that kind of a pitcher early this season and dominate, the AL Central had better look out. If he struggles then it could throw the rest of the rotation off. He will be the absolute key this season. They can overcome it if he struggles but it would be very difficult. If he does not struggle, the sky is the limit.