While scrolling through the web today, I came across this article about the future of Justin Masterson on si.com. For those of you who do not know, Masterson, 23, is one of the Red Sox best pitching prospects and is currently pitching out of the bullpen for the Sox as they try to win their third title in the past five seasons. And folks, Masterson has been great out of the bullpen. In 27 games out of the pen, Masterson has a fantastic 2.36 ERA as a reliever this season and is holding right handed hitters to .196 batting average. Statistically speaking, it would appear that Masterson has a long career ahead of him as a relief pitcher, but could he be an effective starter?
I think so. First of all, I love his stuff. Masterson has a hard diving fastball that comes in to right hand hitters, which results in many weak ground balls and strikeouts. To me, Masterson is a much better version of Derek Lowe simply because his stuff is better and he throws harder. Masterson struck out 39/54 IP as a starter in the majors this season while compiling 37 K/38 IP for AA Portland this season. So obviously the potential is there for Masterson to become a strikeout pitcher. Furthermore, Masterson has too much talent to be stashed away in the bullpen for an entire season. I would rather see Masterson take the ball 25-30 times in a season and give the Sox 160-200 IP rather than having him pitch 60-80 times out of the bullpen. To me, pitching out of the rotation maximizes a pitcher's value, unless he is closing. And last I checked, the Sox have a very good closer (see Papelbon, Jon). Plus, bullpen help is much easier to find than a young, quality starting pitcher.
And finally Sox fans, could you imagine a roation of Lester-Matsuzaka-Beckett-Masterson-Buccholz? That's a rotation that could be around for the next decade or so and has the makings of dominance; one through five. Simply put, thats a scary rotation folks.
(Photo: Getty Images)