CLEVELAND – The Red Sox have always loved Justin Masterson and have tried to get him back a couple of times in deals.
They hated to give him up in a four-player deal with the Indians for Victor Martinez on July 31, 2009, but the Red Sox needed a major hitter at the time and so Theo Epstein sent Masterson, lefty reliever Nick Hagadone, who pitched against the Red Sox last night, as well as righty Bryan Price for Martinez.
Starting in 2010, Masterson has gone 6-13, 12-10 and 11-15 last season.
His best season was 2011 when he had his only winning record and a 3.21 ERA. He has started out strong so far this season – 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA. In three starts and 22 innings, he’s allowed just one run.
“Hopefully he won’t pitch like he did last time out (a 1-0 five-hit shutout over the White Sox), because it was a quick nine innings of work for him,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, Masterson’s first major league pitching coach with the Red Sox.
“The one thing he’s done better job since coming to Cleveland through innings and through facing more lefthanded hitters, his attack plan against them. I think he’s got a better feel for when to stand on his fastball and get his best fastball. We’re seeing velocity ranges where he’s commanding his two-seamer early in the count to get ahead in the count and then look to give you his best fastball when he gets into advantage situations,” explained Farrell.
“The one thing Justin has always been even from the first start he made against Angels in 2008 (six innings, one run, two hits), he’s very composed and determined and a very good pitcher with two outstanding pitches,” Farrell said.
Masterson, who has labored against lefthanded hitters in the past, has held them to a .146 average this season. Lefties hit .296 against him last season and in his career they’ve got .289 against him.