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Second Thoughts Game #88: Yankees 5, Indians 3

Second Thoughts Game #88: Yankees 5, Indians 3
Justin Masterson (Photo: AP)
July 8, 2014
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Masterson’s Struggles Continue

It was another short night for Justin Masterson. He lasted just two-plus innings, throwing 54 pitches (24 strikes), walking three, hitting a batter, and giving up five runs on six hits. It was his fourth start in five in which he’s failed to go more than four innings.

With T.J. House providing quality innings and Zach McAllisteravailable in Triple-A, I’m not sure how much longer the Indians can continue to run Masterson out there. It’s clear there’s more to his struggles than knee soreness. Even when Masterson was transitioning to a starter, he never pitched this bad. That tells me there’s more to this than is being let on. The Indians need to shut him down, and I think they will. If it’s truly an injury that’s bothering him, give him an extended stay on the DL to heal and some rehab appearances afterward to regroup.

If everything goes well, Masterson could still be an asset down the stretch. For now, the team should proceed as if he’s not going to be able to help. His walk rate is over 5 BB/9 (worst of his career), his velocity has been down all season, and he’s seemed to get worse as the year has progressed. This is going to put more pressure on Chris Antonetti to find upgrades to the rotation in the trade market.

As an aside, I wonder if Carlos Carrasco is in consideration to take Masterson’s starts through the All-Star break. He pitched three scoreless innings of relief in this game and likely could be stretched out rather easily to go further. With the issues in the rotation and Carrasco’s performance in the bullpen (and lack of role), I wouldn’t be against giving him Masterson’s last scheduled start on Sunday before the All-Star break.

Chris Dickerson Acquired

On Monday it was announced that the Indians had traded for Chris Dickerson, an outfielder who has spent parts of six seasons in the majors. Acquired from the Pirates where he was in Triple-A, Dickerson has the ability to play all three outfield positions. He’s a natural center fielder, though it appears he’ll be playing left field for the Indians with Michael Brantley shifting over to center.

When I first heard about the trade I was indifferent. I’m not necessarily sure what Dickerson brings to the team that it may not be able to get from Tyler Holt, other than additional depth with Michael Bourn sidelined for up to a month. Still, it didn’t cost much to acquire him, depending on how you feel about George Kottaras being designated for assignment to make room on the roster. That may or may not strike people as a big deal, but I did like Kottaras as the backup catcher. 

I remember Dickerson from Baltimore last year, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. In 105 at-bats he hit .238 with a 36:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It should be noted that ratio is an anomaly from previous seasons, as he normally posts much stronger walk totals. Even so, most of Dickerson’s value at the major league level has come from his strong defense and baserunning.

While we haven’t seen Holt in action, his profile reads like a right-handed version of Dickerson. He’s a player who can play all three outfield spots, has good speed, and a questionable bat. Dickerson has more power and experience on his side, but Holt has shown better plate discipline in the minors. Both players join the Indians in the midst of great seasons with their respective Triple-A teams.

I imagine there could be a platoon in store between Dickerson and Holt. It would give the team a chance to use both players to their strengths and cobble together a suitable replacement for Bourn on the cheap. Dickerson’s presence may also keep Ryan Raburn on the bench against right-handed pitching, and Nick Swisher out of the outfield, which are both good things. Dickerson has had some success against right-handed pitchers in the majors and Holt was hitting .381 against lefties in Columbus upon being called up, so the platoon would make sense.

The early returns on the trade were promising. Dickerson went 1-for-2 in this game and threw out a runner at second base.

Other Notes

- As bad as Justin Masterson was in this game, Kyle Crockett wasn’t very good either. He entered the game with three runs having already scored and runners at second and first. Crockett would then give up an RBI hit, balked runners to third and second, hit a batter, and then had a fielder’s choice score another. Both runs were charged to Masterson, but Crockett gave an assist. Those two runs ended up being the difference in the game.

- I’ve been really encouraged with Vinnie Pestano. He’s now thrown 6 2/3 innings since returning from Columbus, all scoreless. In that stretch he’s recorded a strikeout to walk ratio of 7:0.  His re-emergence will do a lot to bridge the gap between the Indians starters and Bryan Shaw/Cody Allen.

-The Indians will look to get some redemption on the Yankees, with Trevor Bauer matching up against Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday in the second game of the series.


User Comments

July 8, 2014 - 4:20 PM EDT
The RBI "hit" should have been at worst an RBI ground-out it was a swinging bunt to Santana who looked to throw home, but maybe was blocked by Crockett, then instead of going after the SLOW McCann running to second he tried to pivot and underhand to Crockett who was way late to the bag.
The RBI fielder's choice with an average defense should have been a GIDP, a 2-3 hopper straight to the SS, but the 2Bman had a pivot slower than my softball team's allowing a slow-footed Cervelli to beat the throw by plenty.
July 8, 2014 - 2:20 PM EDT
What a bad game for Masterson.. the only thing I saw that might be "positive" is the velo on his four seam fastball was touching 94.. otherwise.. he needed a map and a guide dog to find home plate..

Nice work by Vinnie the P, Scrabble, the Ax Man, CC-Light and Davey Crockett..they gave up a bunch of nothing all night long...

C-Dicks first hit as a member of our tribe..liked the throwing arm in LF.. impressive..

Onward to the tanaka experience tonight.. hopefully the good guys get more than 3 runs this time...

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