Justin Masterson has a knee injury, and should go on the DL

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Masterson's right knee has been bothering him for months, which might explain a lot.

Justin Masterson has been dealing with a sore right knee since his second start of the season. The team will push him back from his scheduled start Sunday afternoon in Seattle to give him some extra rest and run a few tests (T.J. House seems like the most likely candidate to be called up and start that game). Masterson could then pitch a couple days later in Los Angeles, or have his turn skipped and pitch on his next scheduled day, which would be Friday.

Masterson doesn't think it's anything serious:

"I'll get pushed back a couple of days and then come back firing. Technically, I'll miss that start Sunday, but I'll probably pitch a couple of days after that."

He might be right, but personally, I wonder how much of a difference a couple extra days of rest are really going to do. Masterson pitched a great game on Opening Day (when he apparently still felt fine), throwing 7 shutout innings against Oakland, one of the best lineups in the league.

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In his next start, when the knee began to bother him, he didn't last 4 innings, and including that game, he's got a 5.44 ERA, with more than 5 walks per 9 innings, and diminished velocity on all of his pitches (down 2-3 MPH). He's also hit 10 batters during that time, which is a lot, even by his own lofty standards.

We tend to think and worry about shoulder and elbow injuries with pitchers, but a huge amount of their velocity comes from their drive leg, which is the one that's bothering Masterson. Whatever soreness he is dealing with could very well explain the drop in velocity, as well as his command problems.

Instead of a couple extra days, I'd rather see Masterson get a couple weeks to rest his knee. House pitched pretty well while filling in for Zach McAllister, and McAllister is also ready to rejoin the rotation. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, McAllister, and House isn't a dream rotation, but it's passable, and if the Indians are going to do contend all season, they're going to need Masterson back at full strength, so they might as well bite the bullet and see if some extended rest gets him there. They can take advantage of the All-Star break and get him three and a half weeks between appearances while only needing three starts from House.

That's what they should do.

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