Time for Indians to move Justin Masterson to the bullpen


Justin Masterson allowed seven runs in five innings last night for his league-leading 11th loss and is now 5-18 with a 5.19 ERA since going from Boston to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez trade last July.
Normally that type of performance would suggest someone simply isn’t a good pitcher, but in Masterson’s case it likely just means he’s not a good starting pitcher.
As a right-hander with a low arm angle and shaky control Masterson struggles against left-handed hitters and in a starting role opposing managers can stack the lineup with lefty bats against him. However, he’s always been dominant against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .226 batting average and .623 OPS compared to a .301 batting average and .852 OPS versus lefties.
Not surprisingly Masterson has a 3.28 ERA and 72/25 K/BB ratio in 74 career innings as a reliever. I’m all for giving young pitchers a chance to sink or swim as starters before moving them to the bullpen and Masterson is likely still capable of being a decent fourth or fifth starter, but his raw stuff and arm angle are seemingly built for late-inning relief work.
His struggles as a starter have probably soured many Indians fans on Masterson, but as an extreme ground-ball pitcher who’s death on righties he’s a role change away from potentially being a major asset.

Shawn Tolleson becomes a free agent

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The Rangers outrighted reliever Shawn Tolleson off the 40-man roster on Wednesday. Rather than accept the assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, Tolleson has opted to become a free agent, Rangers executive VP of communications John Blake reports.

Tolleson, 28, emerged as a closer for the Rangers in 2015, but his follow-up campaign this year was dreadful. He finished with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He eventually went on the 60-day disabled list with a back injury.

Despite the nightmarish season, it’s easy to see a team deciding to take a flier on Tolleson for the 2017 season.

Indians strongly considering starting Carlos Santana in left field sans DH

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against Marco Estrada #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians slugger Carlos Santana hasn’t played in the outfield in a major league game since 2012, but the Indians are strongly considering starting him in left field for Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field on Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. As the game is hosted in a National League park, there is no DH rule in effect, so the Indians might otherwise have to keep Santana on the bench.

Santana is hitless in six at-bats in the World Series thus far, but he has drawn two walks. He has overall not had a great postseason, carrying an aggregate .564 OPS in 40 plate appearances since the beginning of the playoffs. Still, during the regular season, he had an .865 OPS so he can certainly be a threat on offense at any given moment.