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.