What Do The Dodgers Do With Justin Masterson?

Justin Masterson

You know the Dodgers love a good reclamation project. They just can’t resist it; much like the guys on storage wars can’t resist buying storage lockers. The Dodgers recently signed right hander Justin Masterson to a minor league deal. Before we get into the Dodger’s obsession with injury riddled experiments you should understand that signing Masterson is literally a no-risk acquisition. If Masterson never makes it back to the majors, the Dodgers have essentially lost nothing. Other than wasting their valuable time of course.

At one point the 32-year old was a frontline starter for the Indians. He won 37 games for Cleveland between the 2011-2013 seasons. He tossed 200+ innings in consecutive seasons (2011-2012) and 193 frames in 2013. That 2013 season was a career best for him, as he posted a 14-10 record, a 3.45 ERA and struck out 195 in 34 starts. A 3.35 FIP and 1.2 WHIP earned him his only all-star appearance. Masterson has also completed some rare feats which included an immaculate inning, striking out four batters in a frame and defeating two reigning cy young award winners in the same season.

Masterson is known for his side arm delivery, (three-quarters arm slot) and heavy sinker. He also throws an upper 90’s fastball, slider, and change. He was well on his way to a successful pitching career. Then the big right hander lost it. In 2014 he was traded to the Cardinals. He spent the 2015 season with the Red Sox, but was not effective. Shoulder problems, a knee injury and lack of velocity caused him to post ERAs of 7.04 with the Cardinals in the latter half of 2014 and 5.61 with Boston the following year. He missed the entire 2016 season and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015 with the Red Sox.

What the Dodgers plan on doing with Masterson is unclear. Will he be sitting in extended spring training alongside Julio Urias tossing simulated games and playing cards? Can the Dodgers work their magic and revive Masterson’s career?

The big concern is Masterson’s disappearing velocity. He did pitch 54.1 innings with the Pirate’s triple-A affiliate last year. His results weren’t very good though, as he posted a 4.97 ERA pitching primarily in relief. He struck out just 5.3 per nine and gave up 9.7 hits per nine innings.

It is doubtful Masterson would ever see Los Angeles unless something has gone very wrong for the Dodgers pitching staff. The odds are unlikely for him, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If the Dodgers can work with him and he can regain his lost velocity then he could become a valuable depth piece for the Dodgers.

More than likely Masterson will join a large group of injury decimated hurlers such as Bronson Arroyo, Trevor Cahill, Mat Latos, among others who never appeared with the big club. Maybe the Dodgers can revive Masterson’s dead arm? It’s probably not going to work out for either side. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers will stop trying to purchase lockers hoping to find a hidden Picasso.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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55 thoughts on “What Do The Dodgers Do With Justin Masterson?

  1. When I saw they had signed this guy a few days ago, my first thought was that FAZ had lost his collective mind, then I remembered how much they love reclamation projects and injured, or wounded pitchers. Why else would they sign so many. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. can we expect another 40 million dollar stinker on down the road? I hope not. Look, it is their money and they can spend it anyway they like. But I would prefer a little of it spent on quality instead of quantity. Of course that is my opinion which is worth bupkis to the FO>>…..

      1. He looked pretty good. Fast ball had a lot of movement on it. Good control, and his ball looked heavy. His line was 3 innings with 2 hits, 2 walks and 2 K’s. No runs given up. Kid is going to be pretty special in a year or so. Game was a 3-3 tie with the Mariners pushing a run across in the 9th. McCarthy was named the #4 starter and Ryu #5. 3 spots left to be named on the roster basically…super sub and back up catcher, and the 5th outfielder. Davis, Holt, Bellinger, Dixon sent down. Pitching staff will be, Kersh, Maeda, Hill, McCarthy, Ryu, Jansen, Romo, Stripling, Hatcher, Avilan, Dayton and Wood. Wilson has out hit Barnes this spring and is making that decision as tough as he can. Taylor, SVS, Kike and Thompson fighting it out for the last 2 spots. Segedin sent down also……..and he had an awesome spring. Bet he is pissed……

  2. Yeah, this is just like Beachy, seeing if any value can be unlocked. As long as the team continues to accumulate and develop young talent, I see no downside to complementing that process with these attempted reclamation projects.

    It’s a nice way of taking advantage of the club’s monetary advantage.

    Someone wrote that Masterson may be converted to a reliever.

    1. Agreed. I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with taking a look at someone who can fill out the AAA roster and if called upon has to be better than Tepesch. Signings like this allows the Dodgers to move their prospects at the appropriate pace instead of forcing someone up to AAA who isn’t ready. I see they made a similar signing today in Jurrjens. Jurrjens just got done with the WBC and should be ready to start for OKC. Everyone should remember that Stewart will start the year on the DL and Urias will be back in AZ not throwing with OKC when the season starts. I have to believe that Kazmir’s first couple of starts at least will be at Rancho before he goes to OKC .

      1. At least Jurrjens was a very good pitcher with Atlanta. 3 years since he had a decent season. But another reclamation project.

          1. That is what I read. He was a pretty good starting pitcher at one time, has had arm troubles. OKC is going to be stocked to overflowing.

        1. It is just ridiculous the way they go out of there way, for Hatcher.

          And I don’t think when Baez comes back, that Hatcher will be gone.

          And let’s see what happens with Kike.

          1. Right now Kike is hurt..sore wrist so he might start the season on the DL…but I think Taylor WON the job. He has outplayed Kike…

          1. I think Sborz is a guy that can make a jump to the big league pen this year. Maybe. Good stuff, quality slider.

          2. I think both White and Sborz are being treated as starters. Rhame I think is a non-40 name for the bullpen.

          3. I would think if any of our picks were drafted to pitch out of the pen it would be Sborz and Rhame. Sborz has done both so far, in college and in the pros but wasn’t he pitching out of the pen at AA at the end of last year? Heck, he’s 23, maybe he’s ready to step in for Hatcher when he blows. Rhame is 24 and there is an excellent write up (’15) on him by Harold at Think Blue LA. Rhame is a reliever and relishes that role. With 10 K/9 at AAA last year (a ridonkulous 16.71 at A+ in ’15) he should get consideration soon.

            We have some interesting arms in our organization. Even Hatcher is interesting. I know I’m on the edge of my seat every time he goes in a game.

          4. White is being groomed as a starter. They have some pretty decent minor league arms on the way, and do not forget Ravin who could throw a pork chop past a hungry wolf. He is on the DL right now, but has some serious stuff. Rhame is a good looking prospect too. Sborz could relieve, he has done both. I think if something happens, Morrow will be the first to get the call……if we are lucky, Hatchers arm falls off.

  3. Good post on Masterson. You never know. Morrow is one of those wildcards too. And deep in your hearts you that Hatcher is a wild card in that pen. Could figure some important things out.

    1. Yeah…like how to get hitters out. They love Hatcher and because he throws so hard I can understand why. But the guy does not keep the ball down and MLB hitters feast on heaters.

      1. Hatcher is not a pitcher, he is a thrower!

        And although velocity is a good thing, our hardest throwers, tend to only be throwers.

        Because they don’t have control of there fastballs, let alone, command there fastballs, that well.

        And Hatcher is at the top of the list.

        1. If he ever figures it out he could be very useful. He’s another project. We’ve had a number of them added to the organization the last two years. Most haven’t worked out. But, with our $240mm budget, who cares?

          1. Yeah he has been a project, but why on earth use him in games that count. He has had a bunch of chances and flopped big time, it is time to cut bait. Especially when I see guys with a better idea of how to pitch being sent down.

          2. Well, he is a FAZ purchase. It’s important they be proven right. Every now and then. Preferably now. They weren’t then.

            Frankly I have always liked the guy’s arm. He’s a terrific thrower of the ball. That’s a good start. But, he’s 32. He’s been an experiment for 6 years now. He’s had an ERA+ over 100 twice. Last year it was 71. Yeesh.

          3. Because it’s a long season, and in the end it’s talent that matters? I can’t imagine keeping a talented, if underperforming arm, in the bullpen is really going to affect anyone’s morale on the team. Him blowing some leads however? That will.

            I honestly wonder if anyone would have claimed Hatcher if he was cut, but we may soon find out.

            Really nice McCullough article on Farhan

            http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-farhan-zaidi-20170330-htmlstory.html

          4. “became one of the most coveted minds in baseball”…….Are you Serious? I couldn’t read the rest of that kiss ass article, hell I couldn’t get past the headline.

            Who in the hell wanted this guy other than Friedman? And the only reason he would have wanted him is because the two both came from small market teams that never won anything. Guarantee you that Friedman would have NEVER hired a GM that had already won a title. Now Freidman has a fall guy when ever he wants to play that card.

            Zaidi was not ‘coveted’ by anyone. Please provide his list of accomplishments.

          5. Interesting question.

            It’s definitely a tough equation to weigh out. Andy McCullough’s reporting/opinion or yours.

  4. Michael

    Like I said before, it isn’t just lack of performance, it isn’t good for team moral.

    Like you said, there are other pitchers, that have pitched better, but they are going down, because Hatcher has no options, and the front office, won’t let him go.

    Hatcher himself, is under pressure everytime he pitches, let alone, that fact he is pitching in LA.

    1. Bluto

      How would you feel if you out pitched this guy, for the last couple of years, and you are the one getting sent down, to AAA?

      Talent doesn’t mean a thing, if a player, never knows how to use there talent, to perform at a top level, and help there team win.

      And I am not only talking about the team, as much as I am, talking about the Dodger’s forty man roster.

        1. I don’t think we should be wasted one micro-second of our time trying to imagine or suppose what a major/minor league players mindset or confidence level is.

          I am unsure what your thread related question is, and I’m assuming that you are talking about threads not treads.

    2. Bluto, that was an interesting article on Zaidi. Look, I applaud the guy for his accomplishment coming from a non baseball back ground. He has done well. And he is a stat geek, so is Friedman. Low risk signings are these guys bread and butter…..if it pans out fine, if not, we did not lose anything. But to me, and a lot of Dodger fans some of those signings and some of the trades boggle the mind. Guys 2 years removed from the majors, pitchers with known injury problems acquired for young studs. Old guys on their last legs given 3 year contracts. A pitcher with a long injury history given a 4 year deal. They did the right thing re-signing Turner and Jansen, but Hill, he is going to have to prove to the fan base that he can pitch a whole season. They made a mistake giving Anderson a 15.6 million dollar way back to the team for 0 wins. The list of misses out weighs the hits. Dodgers are a good team. That much is certain. The have a lot of depth, that is obvious too, what they lack is very much quality. They still have a bunch of injury prone guys on the roster…..and that is not changing anytime soon. That new 10 DL is going to be used a lot.

      1. I appreciate your opinion almost as much as I appreciate the opinion of those who cover baseball for a living. Their general (stress: GENERAL) analysis is:

        Top 10 team in the MLB.
        Top 10 team with regard to farm systems.

        1. They’ve been Top 10 since McSphincter left the building. With our wealth, which gives us the ability to throw handfuls of darts, we will remain a Top 10 team with relative ease. The question remains – does this strategy take us from where we were to where we wish to go. So far? A few wins fewer each of two years and no World Series appearances, which doesn’t really surprise me as I predicted as much. Is THIS year going to be different? Well, who knows. My early prediction is no. But, show me some stones at the deadline and that could change.

        2. Gee like I care what you think. I was just responding to the article and every thing I said was true. Like it or not those guys love reclamation projects, and there were some good prospects in the pipeline before they got here signed by Logan White and his boys. They might be top 10, great, but until they win the big enchilada they have done bupkis.

          1. Obviously you (as I do) care about other people’s opinions, otherwise you (nor I) wouldn’t participate in discussion on this blog.

    1. That has been the focus all spring. Sometimes you see it and sometimes he reverts. It is all about being comfortable to players. If you feel weird up there, nothing works. Taylor has made a ton of adjustments to his approach. Kike and Joc have new stances. Segedin was being more selective and so was SVS. It takes time to make adjustments when you are so used to success doing it a different way. To his credit, Yasiel is really trying to make and keep those adjustments in his swing.

      1. Agree. All spring he’s been working on it.

        The crazy thing is Puig’s swing when he first appeared on the scene was so pretty.

        1. He punished certain pitches. He’s got holes in his swing – heat under his hands and breaking stuff down and away. High and tight low and away. It’s been a good strategy since the Babe was a kid. Until Puig adjusts, that’s how he will be attacked.

  5. Oh my MJ. Shouldn’t that have been addressed/encouraged and worked on, oh IDK, 4,5 or 6 weeks ago. Of course I’m going to hear from a few, that’s what Ward has been doing…..BUT for the Manager to say that this close to the start of the season, well that tells me…..get ready for the roller coaster ride!

    1. Chili

      I took it that way to.

      But I do know that Puig has been working with Ward the entire spring training, so I took it like Puig, just wasn’t quite getting it.

      There was also an article in Dodger Com, where people asked the writer, questions about different players.

      And Puig was the headline in that article.

      And I thought the writer was fair, in his analysis.

      But I do think Puig has hit better then Joc lately.

        1. Bluto

          The Astros haven’t won it all.

          And this might only work, for a big market team, like the Cubs and Red Sox are.

          Because money does make a difference too.

    1. Good stuff there bluto. Notice the age graph. It doesn’t even touch 30, let alone Hill’s 50. And, Kershaw is 29 now. See ya Clayton. Sorry about the bullpen thing that one year and the Latos thing the next. But, you know, a 9 ERA one year, 6+ another, 7.8, 5.84…… 9 series’, 4-7, 4.55. Not exactly Koufax-like buddy. You want a win, go 9 and shut ’em out.

      1. Also, defensive metrics are evolving, about time, and framing value is, as it should be, declining.

        538. Great site for information. I took some heat a few months ago for referencing it. But, good to see others finding value there.

          1. You don’t remember? Who do you think? 538 had the Cubs and Hillary winning it all. I agreed with both takes.

  6. Badger

    I wish you and 538, was right on the last one!

    Politics right now, is so crazy and different, and something new comes out, almost everyday.

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