After a pair of atrocious outings versus the Rays and A’s (hardly offensive powerhouses), it’s clear that Justin Masterson is no longer a part of either the present or future success of the Red Sox. Currently sporting an ERA of 6.37 with 4.8 BB/9, the lowest strikeout rate of his career (6.1 K/9), and the lowest fastball velocity of his career, it’s time for Masterson to go. Surely the Red Sox recognize the signs that Masterson is unlikely to provide much of anything down the stretch, and the team is finally starting to take action.
Red Sox manager John Farrell announced yesterday that the Red Sox have scratched Masterson from his scheduled start on Sunday in Seattle. Unable to pinpoint a specific health concern with Masterson, Farrell cited fatigue as the reason for the scratch and indicated that a trip to the 15-day disabled list is not out of the question for Masterson.
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"We’re moving towards a likely DL for him. After he went through a full exam and workup here this morning … there’s not one specific area to the arm or shoulder that is a cause or reason why we’re seeing reduced velocity and reduced action. There’s some fatigue that’s involved."
File this one down as a classic “phantom DL trip” for the Red Sox, who have a habit of placing struggling players on the disabled list with the hopes that some time off can help them ameliorate their issues. With Masterson, though, the Red Sox may not hope for rehabilitation so much as simply buying some time for their young guns in Triple-A Pawtucket.
Farrell stated that knuckleballer Steven Wright is a “strong candidate” to start, a move that would make logical sense after Wright cleaned up Masterson’s mess on Tuesday. After Masterson labored through 2.1 innings, allowing 6 earned runs, Wright tossed 5.2 innings of relief. He certainly wasn’t stellar in those 5.2 innings of work, but he got the job done, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while punching out 4 batters. Even if Wright doesn’t excel in his likely start versus the Mariners, it would be difficult for him to be worse than Masterson’s recent outings.
Even just seven starts into his season, it doesn’t appear likely that Masterson will be able to rebound as a starting pitcher. Perhaps the team can salvage some value through a move to the bullpen and this rest, but it’s tough to be optimistic about Masterson’s future. With such depth in the upper minors, it’s quite possible that this will be the last that we see of Masterson in Boston.