Justin Masterson Heads Our List of Pitchers Looking to Turn it Around

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Updated: February 7, 2013

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The 2011 season was a renaissance year for Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson.  He had command of his bowling ball sinker and looked like he was ready to dominate the Majors for some time.  He posted a 3.21 ERA over 216 innings and looked like he made a winner out of the Indians/Red Sox Victor Martinez trade.  That was 2011. In 2012, we saw Masterson’s command disappear and his ERA spike back up to 4.91.  The 2013 campaign will be an important one as we find out if the 27 year old is as good as he can look at times (like on Opening Day last year when he pitched 8 innings, gave up 1 run, and struck out 10), or if he’s another back of the rotation starter with much too good stuff. Who are some other guys coming off of rough a 2012 and looking to turn it around? Check out my list of 5 more:

1.  San Francisco Giants All-Galaxy starter Tim Lincecum came out of his Hall of Fame orbit last year.  The Freak posted a 5.18 ERA, something so un-Lincecum people are still not sure if it actually happened.  He’s due to be a free agent at the end of the year, and could be in line for a very large payday should he prove that 2012 was a fluke and not the new normal.  It’s vital that he proves himself again as injury and deterioration concerns have hovered over his 5’11″ of fast twitch muscle ever since he was in high school.

2.  The Philadelphia Phillies Roy Halladay is a guy that is has turned himself into a perennial Cy Young candidate.  His 2012 performance is as much a reason for the Phillies poor showing as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  While all three stars struggled with injuries, Halladay is in need of proving that he can still be what he was.  Or even close to what he was.  Halladay, 35, went 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 25 starts last season. It was his highest ERA since he had a 10.64 ERA in 2000 and the first time he didn’t finish in the Top 5 in Cy Young voting since 2005.  His shoulder is reportedly good to go. Time will tell on that front.  He doesn’t need to be a Cy Young winner this year, but he does need to be good.  I really should just do a whole post on this. Stay tuned for that.

3. Brandon McCarthy is 29 and has never been healthy.  The Arizona Diamondbacks are trying him out with a 2 year, $15 Million deal.  That’s an awful lot for a guy who’s pitched over 120 innings (minors or majors) just twice.  He’s definitely talented, but he needs to prove that he can stay healthy both for the Diamondbacks’ checkbook and for his bank account in the 2015 free agency.  Should McCarthy be healthy these next two years, he’ll be in line for a bunch of money.  Teams tend to get overly excited about recent history.

4.  Jon Lester apparently enjoyed his beer and chicken wings too much in 2012.  The Red Sox ace pitcher didn’t pitch like it last year to the tune of a 4.82 ERA and a 9-14 record.  There were no rumors of an injury, but rather a guy who looked disinterested and is increasingly becoming Josh Beckett 2.0.  He’s as talented as anyone can be, but his 2013 season could be one that ends in free agency if the Red Sox decline his $13 Million option in October.  $13 Million for 2014 would be a bargain if Lester is the All-Star and Cy Young candidate that he used to be, but will create a tough situation if 2013 is like 2012.  Plus, the beer and chicken wings jokes will persist indefinitely.

5.  Michael Pineda was a surprise in the 2011 season as he burst onto the scene with a fastball that averaged 94.1 mph and routinely touched 98.  The 22 year old (now 24) was then traded to the Yankees and hurt his shoulder.  After a full year of shoulder surgery and recovery, Pineda could be ready to go.  However, pitching coach Larry Rothschild said that they can’t count on Pineda at all in 2013.  I’ve got higher expectations for both Pineda and the Yankees doctors.  Is Pineda going to be that guy who had that one great year before he got hurt or is he going to be a staple of the Yankee rotation going forward?  I’m hoping for the latter if only because I hate seeing guys’ careers derailed by injury.

6.  Ricky Romero was my pick to finish 3rd in the Cy Young balloting before last year.  His 181 IP, and 5.77 ERA landed him on zero ballots.  I still believe in the stuff, despite the horrendous 105 walks last year.  If Romero can recapture his 2011 form, the Blue Jays will be scary good.

Take away from my list what you will, but know that 2013 is a big year for a bunch of guys.  These ones especially.

-Sean Morash

Stat of the DaySomeone, anyone is “aggressively pursuing” Derek Lowe.

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