UPDATE: Sure enough, the Indians have placed Masterson on the disabled list with right knee inflammation.
Maybe the Indians knew something when they balked at Justin Masterson’s seemingly reasonable contract extension demands.
Masterson, who recently admitted to pitching through knee problems for most of the season, failed to make it out of the third inning last night against the Yankees and his ERA now stands at 5.51 after making the All-Star team last season on the way to a 3.45 ERA.
Masterson’s last three starts have been 4.0 innings, 3.0 innings, and 2.0 innings. Dating back to mid-May he’s logged fewer than 5.0 innings in six of 10 starts, posting a 7.01 ERA and 41/33 K/BB ratio in 44 innings during that span.
After last night’s ugly performance Jordan Bastian of MLB.com asked Masterson what’s up and the 29-year-old right-hander didn’t have many answers:
I think I feel good. I don’t know. Who knows? It’s one of those where it’s a tick [off]. You’re so close and yet you’re so far away. I felt like tonight was going to be such a great one. We had a great bullpen session, got some good things in. Something so, so tiny can make such a big difference when you’re going 60 feet, six inches.
Given the revelation about his knee problems putting Masterson on the disabled list seems like the easiest solution, at least in the short term. He’s not helping himself or the Indians right now and there’s an actual physical problem at play. He’ll be a free agent in three months and suddenly Masterson’s odds of landing a huge contract on the open market aren’t looking so good.