On May 29 Justin Masterson’s ERA was a robust 5.14 and you had people running from him as fast as possible. As someone who continued to stash Masterson, I had people asking me why I even had him on my bench. Thus far in June he’s given us our answer.
Masterson is finally looking like the 2011 version of himself and the results have been impressive. Capped off by last night’s complete game 3-hit victory against the Reds (with 0 ER and 9 K), Masterson has now allowed 1 ER over his last three starts (totaling 23.0 IP) and is carrying a 1.24 ERA in June.
Obviously there is going to be a little bit of luck on his side (85.9% strand rate, .240 BABIP), but you have to like the numbers overall.
First of all, he continues to generate groundballs at an impressive rate:
- April – 56.4%
- May – 56.6%
- June – 54.1%
That was never the problem. Where he has improved dramatically is in his strikeouts and walks. First, let’s look at the strikeout trend:
- April – 6.00
- May – 7.04
- June – 8.38
While he may not be quite as good as the June number, he posted a 7.12 K/9 last season and always has had the potential to be a 7.50 type guy (7.46 over his minor league career).
He also has done a much better job of handing out the free pass as the season has progressed:
- April – 5.10
- May – 3.99
- June – 1.86
Again, he’s not quite as good as he’s been in June, but he is the same pitcher who posted a 2.71 BB/9 just a year ago. In other words, seeing him to continue controlling the strike zone significantly better as the season progresses would not be a surprise.
This month you have a pitcher piling on the strikeouts, avoiding the walks and generating a significant number of groundballs. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s excelling. We may have actually seen much better results in May as well, but a 24.8% line drive rate helped to sabotage him. Back at 16.2% for June (closer to his 18.2% from ’11 and 17.0% for his career), the numbers have finally come back in line.
Things have been impressive and there is no reason to think that he can’t continue to post good starts. Obviously, I wouldn’t quite expect the numbers to be as good as they’ve been in June, but there’s no reason to think he can’t excel. You want to be cautiously optimistic and not necessarily lock him into your lineup every week, but right now he clearly is pitching well and it would appear that he could continue the roll he’s on.
If someone in your league gave up on him I’d run, not walk, to the waiver wire and snatch him up immediately. Especially in deeper leagues, it’s hard to find a pitcher with this type of upside, experience and proven success available for nothing. Why not roll the dice and see if he can keep things up?