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MLB News: Justin Masterson to possibly close

According to Indians manager Terry Francona, starter Justin Masterson will once again pitch out of the pen to start the playoffs. With Chris Perez’s command issues forcing Francona’s hand, he spoke to the media about Masterson’s role at the back end.

“We went from losing our best pitcher to probably being the only team left in baseball that could have a guy finish the game potentially throwing three innings,” Francona said. “That’s quite a weapon. We plan to use it. That’s kind of the way we’ve played all year. Somebody picks somebody else up at a different time. We may not do it in a conventional style, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it.”

It isn’t news that Masterson will start off in the bullpen, but the fact that he is the probable closing option for at least Wednesday night’s game is worth the conversation. The goal is still to get Masterson stretched out to start later in the playoffs, should the Indians advance past the Wild Card game with the Tampa Bay Rays.

“Some of it probably depends on how stretched out he gets,” Francona said. “He’s a good pitcher, so I’m not as worried about what his role going forward is. I just like the idea that he’s a really good pitcher and we plan to use him.”

If Masterson does close, it doesn’t mess with the already defined late inning roles of Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen, Joe Smith, and Marc Rzepcynski. All four have been integral to the Tribe’s September 21-5 record and 10-game season finishing win streak.

Source – Indians.com/Mark Emery

  • Jared Mueller

    I wrote about it earlier. How perfect if Danny gets us 5 or so and Masterson finishes the game off? Keeps bullpen fresh, stretches him out some and 2 hard throwing pitchers in the most important gae.

  • 240

    Would love to see Masterson at some point, but that completely depends on game situation. Don’t sit there and say he is the “closer” and will only pitch the 9th or whatever. Do whatever you can to win. And yes that even means bringing in Scrabble in the 4th inning if its a must to pitch to Dejesus or something along those lines.

  • TSR3000

    Love it. Danny just needs to keep it under 2 runs through 6 innings.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Exactly. If Salazar can go 6 in this game, and whoever pitches Game 3 in the ALDS can go 5, you get Masterson throwing three then four innings on normal rest (perhaps a single inning in between as well in Game 1 or 2), and he’s theoretically available and stretched out for an ALCS start while also keeping your whole bullpen fresh.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I would tend to picture Masterson as Francona’s Swiss Army knife in that he could be used not only as a possible closer but the next man in for Salazar. It’ll be interesting to see what happens but it all starts with Salazar. If he’s aggressive and can maintain pitchers counts without running up his pitch count then that will be huge. If he struggles with control and the Rays hitters can be patient then I doubt he lasts five innings.

  • Steve

    Rays can probably throw out 6 LHH tomorrow. Francona better have Kazmir ready as a matchup guy in the pen tomorrow. He’s going to need him. And I think trying to go with Masterson for 3 innings against so many lefties, when you have every other option available to you, is a mistake.

  • Steve

    In order of wOBA against, our best pitchers against LHH this year who should be available tomorrow – Rzep, Kazmir, Salazar, Allen, Shaw, Albers, Smith, Hagadone, Masterson, Hill. Masterson should come in to face Zobrist, Longoria, and Myers (and whichever lefty is placed in the middle somewhere), but you have much better options against what will likely be the rest of that lineup.

  • Harv 21

    Would Wedge do this? How great it is to have a manager who’s won two rings and has the self-confidence to invert the modern notion of a closer to fit his talent, even in a one-and done game.

    For the guys on the team who have never been to the playoffs, must be nice to know the skipper has been there, done that, and won’t panic.

  • Steve

    This is such a unique situation. Your closer owns up to the fact that he can’t perform his job right now, and you have a talented pitcher who is limited to only a couple innings a night. And considering that the average fan around town could think it up, I’d guess Wedge could too.

  • typo

    Whats the situation with the playoff roster? Is Peres on it? Pestano? I havent seen this discussed.

  • Joe Borowski

    Wedgie stuck with me, because I was awesome!

  • Steve

    Well, not because you were awesome, but your 85% save rate was good enough. You also didn’t tell him to take you out of the role like Perez did.

  • saggy

    who do the Browns play this week?

  • mgbode

    I’ll start thinking about that tomorrow morning 🙂