April 23, 2014

MLB News: Indians’ Justin Masterson named Opening Day starting pitcher

Cleveland Indians’ manager Terry Francona officially named Justin Masterson the starting pitcher for the team’s Opening Day contest early Tuesday afternoon from Goodyear, Arizona. This will be Masterson’s second-consecutive Opening Day start, once again against the Toronto Blue Jays — this time, on the road.

“As the ace, I look to be the leader of the staff and set an example and go out there and set the tone,” said Masterson, following his outing on Monday. “You do that by going out and performing, which didn’t always happen last year. So my goal is to be the leader of this pitching staff and to set the example, and when something needs to happen, guys will look to me to go out there and get the job done.”

Masterson is coming off a down season in 2012, where he posted a 4.93 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 159/88 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 206 innings in 34 starts. The right-hander had a 3.21 ERA in 2011. Francona and Masterson have a history from their respective days with the Boston Red Sox.

Masterson will be followed by Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Myers in the starting rotation, with the final two spots to be decided in spring training — it is believed that Zach McAllister, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Scott Kazmir are vying for those two remaining spots with prospect Trevor Bauer opening the year in Columbus with the Clippers (Triple-A).

[Related: Justin Masterson: Jamaican expatriot, devout Christian, heck of a dancer]

  • mgbode

    going through Cliff Lee’s stats today provided me with renewed hope on Masterson. perhaps he will follow a similar path minus the 2007 injury-aided self-destruction

  • LaundroMat

    “Those who were fortunate enough to scoop up Cleveland Indians Opening Day tickets during the six-minute window in which they were available will see Justin Masterson take the bump…”

    Please, whatever you do, don’t refer to the pitcher’s mound for a minor league affiliate as the “baby bump.”

  • NoVA Buckeye

    The Indians open on the road this year in Toronto FWIW

  • NoVA Buckeye

    Masterson pitched well on opening day last year until Perez blew the game.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Interesting… Scott, you don’t think Carrasco has a shot at one of those spots?

    I’m surprised they named the opening day starter already… Tito must think he has the highest potential to face other #1s and get the win, which wasn’t the case last year.

  • Brian_24

    Which means those that were UNFORTUNATE enough to get tickets to the Home Opener will have to watch Ubaldo Jimenez….NOOOOOO!!!!

  • LaundroMat

    FWIW: A lot, in terms of the accuracy of the story.

  • wendigo

    hes pitching for the blue jays game…will he be in line to start the home opener?

  • Kildawg

    I like Carrasco, but I think he needs to start in AAA this year to build back his pitching skills in general. We don’t need to rush him back after he had Tommy John surgery. Plus, he and Bauer can push each other in Columbus to see who the 6th starter would be. I see Kazmir cracking the rotation, at the expense of Huff on the 40-man roster.

  • Kildawg

    Perhaps Lee’s 2007 was Masterson’s 2012. He did have his non-throwing shoulder scoped after the 2011 season, which apparently led to his inconsistent 2012.

  • typo

    To everyone who is excited about this team: Do you see the starting pitching. 2 and 3 are Jimenez and Myers. They combined to go 12 and 25 last year. How can anyone take this team sseriously?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cb.everett.9 CB Everett

    Absent a collapse, it’s going to be Kazmir. No way, we give up on a solid (reclaimed) lefty who’s hitting the low to mid 90s again with re-found control. I have a buddy who’s friends with Kaz in SoCal when he played for the Angels–and let’s put it mildy–the dude didn’t have his priorities straight with the partying & women. Maybe a case of a lot of talent and things came easily early on/hit diversity and didn’t handle it well–and now he’s refocused and hopefully matured. Here’s hoping. Would be a good story and a welcome addition.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    I’m sure he has a shot, but very much an outside one. He will also be on monitored pitch counts.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Was undoubtedly one of his best outings of the year.

  • Jaker

    Color me SHOCKED

  • NoVA Buckeye

    Don’t encourage the “Masterson Cy Young 2013 Campaign” just yet, plenty of games to be played.

  • Natedawg86

    Esp if Carrasco is on an innings count this year. Want to have him available for playoffs

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Good point, for some reason I was thinking he was almost a lock in the rotation… I think I got some bad info that he was out of minor league options, which doesn’t sound correct now that I think about it.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Well said. I hope Kazmir keeps showing promise… would love to see him make the team and give us a viable lefty starter for once.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Because you never know. Paul Byrd won 15 games in 2007 with a 4.6 ERA. Scott Elarton won 11 games in 2005 with a 4.6 ERA. Cliff Lee won 14 games in 2004 with a 5.4 ERA. In other words, poor starting pitching doesn’t mean you can’t win games.

  • typo

    I understand, but this is back to hoping guys like Shelly Duncan will have breakout years. Possible but not likely. Just surprising to me that noone is mentioning this.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I would say it’s not like that… Duncan was a player who never performed at a level that warranted him being a full-time starter. At best he was a platoon guy with poor defense and poor base-running. It’s more like hoping that Grady Sizemore will come back to form. Jimenez has the “stuff”, he just doesn’t have the control. Will he find it again? There’s plenty of reasons to believe that he won’t, but maybe a new coaching staff can figure out how to help him. We won’t really know until the season gets underway.

    I guess the one thing that I think you’re discounting a little too much is the improved offense and the improved defense in the outfield. When an outfielder, like Shin-Soo Choo, takes a step in the wrong direction or takes a bad route to the ball, it doesn’t show up as an error, it shows up as a legit hit. I think ERAs will be lower simply because the defense is better.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Also regarding Brett Myers, his last year as a starter in 2011 he did go 7-14, but it was for the abysmal ‘Stros who can’t score runs and he was the #1 starter in the rotation… can’t expect Myers to beat the Halladays and Lincecums of the MLB world. It’s not too crazy to think he could have a record closer to .500 as the #3 starter for the Tribe and their beefed-up offense.

  • mgbode

    he also had a 4.46 ERA in a pitching friendly NL Central. You’d have to add at least a 0.5ERA for the league switch.

    I am hoping Myers gets a 4.5 ERA. If he does that, then I agree, you never know what his record might be. He could conceivably win 12-15 games and we have seen that before as you mentioned.

  • mgbode

    I want to see Kazmir be better than Shields just so that we can laugh at Royals fans for giving up their top prospect for the wrong ex-Ray pitcher :)

  • mgbode

    INDIAN’S ARE DUE FOR ANOTHER CY WINNER! IT’S BEEN LIKE FOREVER!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    True, but if we do that then we should probably split the difference between his 2010 and 2011 ERAs with Houston as he had the same number of starts each year, but a drastically better ERA in 2010. But I agree, all in all we are probably talking about a low to mid 4s ERA and it’s going to take a good offense and solid defense to get him wins (which I think the Tribe has now).

  • Steve

    Partying didn’t have much to do with his arm going “pop” and losing a lot of velocity and all the bite on his slider. It’s nice that he can dial it back up there at the moment, but I don’t see how he mantains it. The last four years his arm has been the equivalent of Sizemore’s legs.

  • Steve

    Cairo has Myers at a 4.01 ERA, ZiPS has him at 4.25 for 2013 projections. I find that to be a bit optimistic, but I still think Myers is going to provide a lot of value even at 4.50.

    Last year, the Indians needed to use 10 starters. After Masterson, Jimenez, and McAllister, they got 76 starts of 5.66 ERA from a mishmash of starters we shouldn’t have expected much from. Pinning down 30 starts and 180 innings of below average but still above replacement level innings from Myers means guys like Seddon, Hernandez, Huff and Kluber, and a busted Tomlin don’t see the rotation.

  • mgbode

    From past discussions, I think we are pretty close on Myers overall. The main problems I have with Myers are as follows:

    1. We gave him $7mil / 1year deal. Shaun Marcum got a $4mil / 1 year deal (there has got to be an injury concern?)

    2. Everyone seems to be pinning their hopes on him being a solid SP3. That is not a guy with a 4.5 ERA to me.

    3. Yes, I do get the value of “he’s better than Gomez” but I was hoping for more than that added to our rotation. With Bauer unlikely to give us more than 100IP in MLB this season, it doesn’t seem like we have enough quality arms.

  • mgbode

    well, I would present 2007, 2008, and 2009 to show that 2010 is the one that doesn’t fit (2011 was pretty much more of the same).

  • Steve

    1 – plenty of injury concerns.

    2 – No, hes not a league average run preventer, but theres a lot of value in going 180-200 innings beyond being better than Gomez. Not having to go furthur down your depth chart is invaluable.