15-9: Bullpen spoils Masterson’s debut, 7-5

Justin Masterson looked good in his Major League debut. Really good. He went a full six innings, showcasing his sinker, slider and changeup, and held a pretty good Angels lineup to just one run. He left the game set up for the win, the score 3-1, Red Sox. But the Angels pulled a “Boston Red Sox” and rallied for a four-run 7th, and added one more each in the 8th and 9th frames, punishing the Boston bullpen, resulting in a 7-5 loss.

Masterson began the game throwing 92-94 mph on his sinker, and kept his slider down in the zone. He really moved the game along, getting 11 ground ball outs out of 23 batters faced, including a key double play in the 6th inning. He surrendered only 2 hits and 4 walks against a pretty good AL lineup, and only gave up a wind-aided solo home run to Mike Napoli in the 5th. He threw 95 pitches today, 58 for strikes.

There’s a lot to like about this kid. First you notice his 6-6, 250 lb body, and the nice, easy 3/4 arm throwing motion. He’s very consistent with his form, and is able to throw the sinker pretty much anywhere in the lower half of the strike zone. He can locate the slider low and away to right-handed batters, and the changeup low and in; he needs to work the opposite sides of the plate with these pitches as well. I don’t know if stamina is an issue, but he also seemed to tire after about four innings, with his fastball losing 3-4 mph; but for a sinkerballer, that might not be so bad. The only other minor gripe was that he’s really deliberate coming to the plate, which the Angels took advantage of, running wild on the basepaths today. Still, Masterson showed good maturity and composure, not getting rattled at all. I can’t wait until this guy gets a chance to work with Jason Varitek.

Joe Saunders (4-0) is a pretty solid starter. He’s got a couple of plus pitches and hits his spots very well for a young lefty. The Red Sox loaded the bases on him with no outs in the 2nd inning, to score only one run. I feel like we do this almost every game, especially early in the game. There are so many of these situations where we could have blown the game wide open early. But this is probably perception more than reality; the Sox are hitting .294/.351/.412 with the bases loaded and .311/.407/.425 with runners in scoring position so far.

The Sox added two more runs in the 4th on consecutive ground rule doubles by Coco Crisp and Kevin Cash. Both fly balls took advantage of a strong wind blowing out to right-center.

Anyway, the top of the 7th is when it all started to unravel. Javier Lopez came in and walked Casey Kotchman, then gave up a single to Maicer Izturis. In comes Manny Delcarmen, fresh from the flu sickbed. He walks the bases full with no one out, then Erick Aybar reached on an infield hit. So between the two of them, we have four baserunners and no outs. Yuck. Then Hideki Okajima comes in, probably warmed up too hastily, and allows two RBI singles before setting them down. A four-run backbreaker inning.

Los Angeles brought out the same three relievers we saw last night, Justin Speier, Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez. It was pretty tough hitting them with the shadows falling halfway to home plate. You can’t pick up the spin of the pitch nearly as well.

David Ortiz hit a two-run home run down the right field line in the bottom of the 9th, but it just wasn’t enough on this day.

Crisp had a very good day at the plate, stroking a long ground-rule double to the triangle in right-center, and narrowly missing the Monster seats for another double in the 6th. He also stole 3rd base twice on the Angels catcher. It’s true that as long as Crisp is willing to stay in a part-time role, he is a valuable asset to this team. But if he still wants to be traded, games like this can only help his trade value.

One Response to 15-9: Bullpen spoils Masterson’s debut, 7-5

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    Masterson’s sinker is indeed reminiscent of Derek Lowe’s sinker. The movement on it was pretty similar, I thought. And there are a lot worse guys to be compared with.

    Josh Kalk’s PITCH f/X data supports this as well, as Lowe is Masterson’s #3 comparable behind Burke Badenhop and Luis Mendoza.
    Masterson: http://baseball.bornbybits.com/2008/Justin_Masterson.html
    Lowe: http://baseball.bornbybits.com/2008/Derek_Lowe.html

    They really are quite similar. Even the percentage of fastball thrown is almost the same. Both are listed as fastball/sinker/slider/changeup pitchers that throw about 90-91 mph on average. Masterson has a slower breaking ball that is classified as a curveball. Some other points: Look at how tight Masterson’s release points are. He’s really repeating his throwing motion very consistently, which is great for a young guy. This means better control and less injury risk. Masterson appears to have less movement on his pitches, but he varies speeds a lot more, making it tougher for hitters to square him up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: