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.
sources: justin masterson signs minors deal with dodgers
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 27, 2017
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.