It seems like at this time for the past few years we’ve had the same discussion about the potential breakout candidacy of Justin Masterson. The underlying metrics scream that he could be a successful, under-the-radar option for fantasy owners, yet he has consistently failed miserably. The 2010 season was no different, having posted the following line:
140 Strikeouts (7.00 K/9)
73 Walks (3.65 BB/9)
So, when do we finally write-off his “potential” and just accept the fact that the 25-year old (he’ll be 26 by Opening Day) will simply is never going to live up to our hopes? If you ask me, we’re not quite there yet.
Yes, the overall numbers were bad, but there are several reasons to believe that, sooner or later, he is going to figure it out and post a solid season. First of all is the luck, which is obvious when we look at the numbers above.
Of pitchers who threw at least 170 innings in 2010, Masterson’s mark was the seventh worst. Of pitcher’s to throw at least 300 innings over the past two years, Masterson’s .328 (he posted a BABIP of .321in 2009) is sixth worst in the league.
To make matters worse, he Masterson has also suffered from below average strand rates the past two years (68.6% and 66.6%). Sooner or later we have to think that the luck is going to improve, don’t we?
Even if you want to ignore the luck components, there is little questioning that Masterson has the skill to succeed. In 2010 he posted a 59.9% groundball rate, second to only Tim Hudson (64.1%).
I know that he didn’t show excellent control last season, but he does have it. Over his minor league career he posted a BB/9 of 2.28. Granted, he has now thrown more innings in the major leagues then he did in the minors (he has a major league walk rate of 3.92) and his time spent in the minors was more skewed to the lower levels (only 9.1 innings pitched at Triple-A). Still, there is hope that he improves on the walk rate.
He showed that potential in September, when he posted a 0.86 BB/9 over 21.0 innings of work (6 appearances, 2 of which were starts). Overall in the second half he went 3-5 with a 3.84 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He also posted a BB/9 of 3.00 in his 75.0 innings of work.
You couple good control with an elite level groundball rate and there is an awful lot to like. When you throw in a little bit of strikeout potential (career mark of 7.41 K/9, right along the lines of his minor league career mark of 7.45) and there really is no reason not to take a flier on him late in your drafts.
He potentially brings the trio of skills that you look for from pitchers:
- Groundball Rate
Luck is something that no one can do anything about, but Masterson has the potential to maintain his elite groundball rate and supplement it with good control and strikeout ability (as he showed late in 2010). Assuming the luck finally goes in his favor, seeing him match his second half numbers would be a baseline number. He would even have the potential to outperform them.
Obviously I wouldn’t invest highly on him, but at the end of your draft he certainly is worth stashing in deeper formats.
What are your thoughts of Masterson? Could this be the year that he finally puts it together? Would you take a late round flier on him?
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