So tonight's Closing Time was supposed to belong to Erasmo Ramirez, but we'll need to scrap that plan, because ... well, because Danny Salazar.
Salazar made his MLB debut for Cleveland on Thursday, and he was downright evil. Just check the tape. The kid's fastball regularly hit 99 and his split/change seemed almost unfair. Salazar no-hit Toronto through five innings, ultimately striking out seven batters, yielding just one run.
The 23-year-old right-hander has been mostly dominant across two minor league levels this season — 100 Ks in 76.0 IP, 1.11 WHIP — and he badly mistreated Jays hitters this afternoon. Salazar wasn't considered a grade-A prospect by anyone entering the season, but he's clearly made a leap. He was dominant on Thursday. His delivery seemed too smooth to produce high-90s radar readings, yet there they were. Salazar is headed back to Triple-A Columbus, but the Tribe can't possibly keep him there for long. (They can't, right? No, they can't. No way.)
"What impressed us most was how poised he was," said Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway.
What impressed the rest of us was the blistering fastball and the sick change. I'm ready to stash him in a league or two when he hits the player pool, just to see where this story goes.
• As for Erasmo ... well, it wasn't great. It's probably time to pump the brakes here. The Red Sox piled up six hits, four walks and seven runs against him, and he gave up a leadoff homer to Jacoby Ellsbury. Can't say I regret having no shares, right at this moment.
• Jake McGee picked up a rogue save on Thursday against the Twins, only because Fernando Rodney had appeared in three straight for the Rays. No need to run out and grab McGee in standard mixers. I mention the save only because McGee's full-season stats still look terrible (4.46 ERA), but all the damage was done in the first 5-6 weeks of the season. He's been a monster since mid-May. (Game log here.) If you're a roto owner using middle-relievers to manage your ratios, McGee is a solid play.
• White Sox catcher Josh Phegley homered for the third time in four games, taking Anibal Sanchez deep in the sixth inning against the Tigers. It was a wall-scraper, sure, but they all count the same. Phegley hit 15 bombs and slugged .597 in 61 games for Triple-A Charlotte before the call-up, so the power surge isn't completely fluky.
• Darin Ruf delivered his fourth straight 1-for-3 performance for the Phils — he doubled off Jordan Zimmermann leading off the seventh — while making his fifth start at first base. Ruf has now earned eligibility at the position he figures to occupy for however long Ryan Howard is shelved. The soon-to-be 27-year-old hit 38 homers in the high minors last season, making him a person of interest in the fake game. If you need a lottery ticket in the power cats, give him a look.
• Kevin Gregg picked up save No. 16 for the Cubs on Thursday, working around an error (his own) and a walk. I'm as shocked as anyone that he still has a sub-2.00 ERA, but indeed he does. He's allowed runs in four of his last eight games, however, so Bad Gregg is out there, lurking.
• The Arizona bullpen is officially stuck in committee as of this writing, but you'll note that Brad Ziegler picked up a save on Thursday. It wasn't a perfectly clean outing for Ziegler (HBP, single), but he managed to shut the door. Z's ratios have been just fine this year (2.49, 1.06), and he has a few saves on his resume already. Worth a flier, if you have a need. Arizona is no doubt shopping for relief help; nothing is settled for the D-Backs.
• MATT ADAMS ALERT: On Thursday, Matt Holliday tweaked a hamstring, leading to a wheel play that put Allen Craig in left field and Matt Adams at first. If Adams gets regular plate appearances in the weeks ahead, fantasy owners will enjoy the returns. He's hit seven homers in 120 at-bats this year, and he entered the day with a .322/.370/.576 slash. Add today, just in case Holliday misses time.