Justin Masterson was MasterFUL last night (HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! I’m a card folks) going 7 innings with 4 hits and only 1 run allowed. The Indians are now 9-4 and quickly becoming the darling sleeper pick of the AL thanks in no small part to the performance of their starters. We’ve recently seen excellent outings from Carmona, Talbot and now Masterson – the kind of outings that make Tribe fans think the Indians might be buyers at the trading deadline. It’s far too early to this excited about the Indians starters. Looking at their peripheral stats tells you why…
|2011 Season||Career Totals|
As of last evening, the Indians were 2nd in the AL in ground ball % (GB%) with a good 48% of balls in play being hit on the ground. The problem with that number is the guys throwing all these grounders have nothing in their career history to suggest this trend will continue (reminder: We are exactly 13 games into the bloody season). Even more, most of the starters are pitching well above their established career norms for their peripheral stats. Masterson, Talbot and Tomlin are all well above their career GB rates and Carrasco is actually going the other way (the bad way) with a GB rate 11 points lower than his career average.
Josh Tomlin’s peripherals are probably the worst of this bunch with his K and BB rates going the wrong way from his career average. He’s living off that GB rate and given his track record that rate will likely not continue. Even more concerning is the 2MPH he appears to have lost off his fastball from last season (89.4 MPH in 2010 vs 87.0 in 2011). It’s worth watching this speed figure to see just how much it upticks as the season goes on. Mitch Talbot is pitching out of his mind good right now with all of his peripherals well above career norms. If those figures are still at that level in June, we’re onto something. For now, let’s put Talbot in the “it’s only 13 games” category and wait for the numbers to regress back to the mean. Carrasco has his peripherals (or at least the K rate and GB%) moving the wrong direction but much like Talbot, let’s wait and see.
With Carmona the closest to his career norms that leaves Masterson as the last over-achiever. The expectation around Masterson is around waiting to see if he has a break-out year in him. He’s always been a good groundball pitcher and had an above average K rate with the knocks coming around a high walk rate and a farily ugly righty/lefty split (example: career BA vs righties – .219, vs lefites – .284). So the question is/has been: is he going to break out into a front of the rotation guy? As with everything this early in the season, it’s too early to tell but if I had to make a bet as to which of these starters would take a big step forward based on their April performance I’m going with the MasterFUL, Masterson (HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Twice in one article – I rule).
And now, in honor of all the over-reacting that takes place EVERY April in the majors – Monty Python (really, do I need an excuse for this one?)….