Cleveland Indians 2013 in Review: Jedi Masterson wields the force

Justin Masterson - Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Our 2013 in Review series continues with the ace of the staff, Justin Masterson.

Justin Masterson

Starting Pitcher

Age: 28

Acquired: Trade, 07-31-2009: From the Boston Red Sox with Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez.

2013 Salary: $5.6875M

2014 Contract Status: Third year arbitration (estimated $10M) [2015: Free Agent]

Justin Masterson is the fourth player to have been born in Jamaica and the third to become an All-Star (after Chili Davis and Devon White). He grew up in Beavercreek, Ohio, spent two years at Bethel College in Mishawka, Indiana before transferring to San Diego State University. He pitched one year there and in the Cape Cod League before being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2006 draft.

2013 in Review Hub: Your destination for Let's Go Tribe's look at key prospects and players from the Indians in 2013

After signing for a $510k bonus, he reported to the Lowell (MA) Spinners of the New York-Penn League (A-). He only pitched in 14 games, all in relief, and was spectacular, 9.4 K/9 and a mere 2 walks in 31.2 innings. He skipped A ball in 2007 and converted to the rotation for the Lancaster (CA) Jethawks in the California League. His rates weren't anything special, but the Red Sox promoted him to the Portland (ME) Sea Dogs in AA.

Heading into 2008, Masterson was Baseball America's #64 prospect and opened in AA again before making his debut in a spot start against the Angels on April 24. He went back down for a month before making another spot start. He was sent to Pawtucket (RI-AAA) this time before returning 13 days later. He made seven more starts with on last detour to AAA before sticking in the bullpen for the Red Sox in late July.

Justin spent most of the first half of 2009 in the pen for the Sox (except for six starts in late April/early May) before coming over as the centerpiece of the Victor Martinez trade at the July deadline. His Tribe debut was the next day on August 1 against the Tigers, pitching 3 scoreless innings. He moved directly to the rotation after that, making 10 starts, culminating in a complete game 1-0 loss to the White Sox only allowing four hits while fanning 12.

Masterson struggled in 2010 (84 ERA+) before finding his groove in 2011, 122 ERA+ in 33 starts but only a 6.6 K/9. He struggled even worse in 2012 (along with the rest of the staff), finishing with a 79 ERA+ in 34 starts. There was concern heading into this season that perhaps the 2011 season was a mirage. But as the staff had nobody else worthy to start opening day, he was the guy. He outdueled defending NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey in a 4-1 victory.

Masterson was even better in his next start, shutting out the Rays for 7 innings, just two hits and 8 strikeouts in the 13-0 shellacking of David Price. He got even better in start #3, pitching a complete game 1-0 shutout of the White Sox. He faltered in three of his next four starts though, ballooning his ERA from 0.41 to 3.64. After a quality start against the Twins, he pitched his second shutout, a 1-0 win over the Yankees with just four hits and 9 K's. He followed that up with seven more shutout frames against the Mariners, this time with just three hits and 11 whiffs.

But his old friends in Beantown roughed him up for the second time, before beating the Reds and losing back to back starts against the Tigers and Yankees. He outdueled Gio Gonzalez after that, but took a no decision. The Orioles hit him pretty good, but he finished off June with his third shutout, this time beating Chris Sale 4-0.

He only made four starts in July, three very good ones and one poor one against the Tigers. He did earn his first All-Star nod, but did not get into the game. Justin did not pitch great in August, but did pitch 6+ innings in five of his six starts. In his first start in September against the Orioles, he strained an oblique muscle. He rested and rehabbed well enough that he returned during the final week of the season. He made three scoreless appearances, finishing two of them and striking out 7 in just 3.2 innings. He also pitched two dominant innings of relief in the Wild Card loss.

He also had the distinction of making the first and last pitches of the Indians regular season. He also became just the third pitcher (after Bruce Hurst in 1989 and Shane Reynolds in 2003) to beat both of the previous season's Cy Young award winners (Dickey, Price) and the first to do it in the first two starts. Masterson ended up leading the league with those 3 shutouts and also with 17 hit batters.

Masterson's splits this year were quite interesting as well. He again was fantastic against righties, holding them to a 182/267/240 line while he improved against lefties, 248/340/357. He had a 3.09 home ERA vs. a 3.86 road one. He was fairly successful against Miguel Cabreara (764 OPS) but Victor Martinez and Don Kelly murdered him (1200 and 2321 OPS respectively). Mike Moustakas and Mike Carp also hit him well, but Adam Dunn was pitiful (077/077/077) as well as Alex Rios (100/182/100).

As Justin is arbitration eligible this year, my hope is that the Antonetti will offer him an extension, buying out this final year. My best guess is that it would be for five years and $85M or so. I am approximating that to be $12M, $15M, $18M, $20M, $20M. But salaries are not my forte, so I will leave that up to the masses.

Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
2009 24 CLE 1 7 .125 4.55 11 10 0 1 0 0 57.1 56 35 29 5 35 1 52 2 0 2 256 94 1.587 8.8 0.8 5.5 8.2 1.49
2010 25 CLE 6 13 .316 4.70 34 29 0 1 1 0 180.0 197 107 94 14 73 4 140 11 0 12 802 84 1.500 9.9 0.7 3.7 7.0 1.92
2011 26 CLE 12 10 .545 3.21 34 33 0 1 0 0 216.0 211 89 77 11 65 4 158 11 0 5 908 122 1.278 8.8 0.5 2.7 6.6 2.43
2012 27 CLE 11 15 .423 4.93 34 34 0 1 0 0 206.1 212 122 113 18 88 1 159 13 0 14 906 79 1.454 9.2 0.8 3.8 6.9 1.81
2013 28 CLE 14 10 .583 3.45 32 29 2 3 3 0 193.0 156 75 74 13 76 0 195 17 0 8 803 109 1.202 7.3 0.6 3.5 9.1 2.57 AS
CLE (5 yrs) 44 55 .444 4.08 145 135 2 7 4 0 852.2 832 428 387 61 337 10 704 54 0 41 3675 96 1.371 8.8 0.6 3.6 7.4 2.09
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/11/2013.

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