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Remember that commercial for Olympia Sports where Justin Masterson gets in a taxi and the driver gushes about him? Well for now, those days are over.
As part of the trade that put Victor Martinez in a Red Sox Jersey, Masterson was the odd man out. He now finds himself in Cleveland in a role where he can be very productive.
This season, Masterson was 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 appearances, including six starts, this season with Boston. For his career, he is 9-8 including his appearance in the ALCS last season where he recorded his first postseason victory against the Rays.
For Cleveland, they got a glimpse last night into what to expect. On Victor Martinez bobblehead night, the Indians’ newest member came out of the bullpen and pitched three scoreless innings, with four strikeouts. With a strong performance out of the gate, Cleveland is looking to give Masterson a few more long innings from the bullpen before moving him into the rotation.
With former ace Cliff Lee now in Philadelphia, Masterson now has the opportunity to become a mainstay in Cleveland and perhaps work his way into a No. 2 role behind Carl Pavano. With his previous starting experience with Boston and postseason success, Masterson could help Cleveland get back on track in the near future.
For the Red Sox, they gain a strong bat in Martinez, but lose a dependable arm in Masterson. With Tim Wakefield scheduled to return soon, the Red Sox are going to have to evaluate their starting pitching and see where they can get the most from their starters.
Struggling in his outings this season with Boston, John Smoltz could make the move to the bullpen in a setup and occasional closer role. It wouldn’t be new for Smoltz, who was a closer for the Braves and even saved 55 games in 2002. With Clay Buchholz, a popular name in trade talks, remaining in Boston, it appears that the team has faith in his ability and he could remain in the rotation, until Daisuke Matsuzaka make his anticipated return some time in September.
With Boston’s acquisition of Victor Martinez, it could prove to be a better trade in the end. With the flexibility of playing Martinez at first or catcher, and for Kevin Youkilis’ ability to play the corners, the Red Sox can have a rotating roster to give players rest. With aging players Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek getting breaks, the performance will greatly improve with the occasional days off. Martinez was already batting third for the Sox in his first game and collected his first RBI and hit, which is hopefully a sign of things to come.
Justin Masterson could become a top pitcher in the rotation for Cleveland. If things go right for him, he could find himself pitching at Fenway during the Sox’s final series of the regular season in October. Boston will more then likely be in a playoff race with New York and Tampa Bay, and maybe Masterson could get some revenge against his former comrades.
Remember that Justin Masterson commercial I mentioned earlier? Now, without further ado…the commercial. It’s truly an appropriate goodbye to Masterson.