Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Last season was truly dreadful by virtually any metric for Justin Masterson. After starting the year in the Red Sox rotation, he was sent down to AAA, where he had one disastrous outing before being dropped to AA. He worked his way back to the majors, but was shut down halfway through August.
Unable to find any consistency in either the rotation or the bullpen, Masterson struggled to a 5.61 ERA and a 1.601 WHiP, allowing an uncharacteristic seven home runs in 59.1 innings. His ERA was the 29th worst of any pitcher who had over 40 innings of work, and only 18 pitchers had a worse WHiP. This was not even a case of the Red Sox defense failing their pitcher, as Masterson had a 4.89 FIP on the year.
Even more alarming may be Masterson’s decreasing ground ball rate. A pitcher who has been able to work out of trouble due to his ability to generate grounders, Masterson went for generating one fly ball for every 1.44 grounders to a 1.08:1 rate. Perhaps this is due to his dramatically decreased velocity, as Masterson has seen his average fastball velocity drop from 93.97 MPH in 2013 to 89.06 MPH in 2015.
If Justin Masterson is having mechanical issues, or is beginning to become more of a fly ball pitcher, then the Kansas City Royals may be a good fit. Dave Eiland has been able to work wonders with other struggling pitchers in the past; perhaps he could find that magic formula with Masterson.
Next: A major injury risk