Justin Masterson- BOS- Rookie- Last season, Masterson had an interesting stat line. He split the season between Class A Lancaster, tossing 96 innings, and AA Portland, where he threw 58. Masterson’s raw totals of both walks and strikeouts were very similar at both places. He had 22 walks and 56 strikeouts in Lancaster and 18 BBs and 59 Ks in Portland. This indicated that while his pitches baffled AA hitters, particularly his sinker that hits the low 90s, he also had control issues. Through Masterson’s first 4 starts at Portland this season, he has harnessed the control while blowing away hitters at even a higher rate. In 19 IP he allowed only 5 walks while striking out 23. This is a large part of why Masterson owns a 1.00 WHIP and 0.95 ERA. Although the Red Sox have him starting, and are inserting him as an emergency starter today, the longer term projection is that he could fill a setup role in front of Jonathan Papelbon. It’s probably not going to happen too soon, however. In keeper leagues, Masterson has some potential, particularly if your league counts holds. Otherwise, his one-and-done major league debut will give him little value yet.
Gary Matthews, Jr.- LAA- Stats- There is some significance in Matthews hitting both homers yesterday righthanded. Last season he had a nagging shoulder injury that sapped his power when he hit righthanded. Against lefties not only was his average a low.175, but he slugged only .300 and hit 3 homers in 120 ABs. Matthews hit .275, slugged .455 and hit 15 homers in 396 ABs against righties. This was counter to his usual trend of punishing southpaws more than righties. After yesterday’s performance Matthews is hitting an even .300 with a whopping .900 SLG and 2 homers in 10 ABS against southpaws, while only hitting .241, slugging .354 and socking 2 homers in 79 ABs against righthanders. The small sample size against lefthanders is distorting things like his SLG and HR/AB ratio, but it is still an encouraging sign that he is back to his usual form and should be effective batting righthanded.
Aaron Laffey- CLE- Rookie- Keep a watch on the International League box scores for tonight, particularly the one for Buffalo vs. Scranton/Wilkes Barre. If Laffey does not make his scheduled start, that means he will probably be called up to start for the Indians on Monday. Yesterday’s rainout messed up Cleveland’s rotation and they will need a starter on Monday. Laffey has performed well at AAA this season, going 3-1 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 18 Ks and 6 BBs covering 23 IP over 4 starts. Last season he rose from AA to end up getting some time in the majors and did not seem overmatched, posting a 4-2 record and 4.56 ERA in 9 starts for Cleveland. He has some decent upside and could be a sleeper if any more Indians’ starters fall by the wayside this season.
Javier Vazquez- CHA- Cold- One aspect of Vazquez’ performance this year, even during his 3-game winning streak that was snapped last night, is that it looks like he is getting the ball up. He has a GO/FO ratio of 22/40 and in every start has retired more batters via the fly ball than the ground ball. Vazquez has yet to yield a homer, but with a ratio like that it’s only a matter of time before some of those fly balls go out of the park. If he does not get a handle on that his season could go south very quickly.
Johnny Damon- NYA- Hot- Damon has added 63 points to his batting average in his last 3 games. Going 7-for-14 with 2 doubles and 2 homers has raised it from the sub-Mendoza depths of .197 to .253. The luck factor may be turning around for Damon, who had a puny .143 BHIPx before this current streak. That and a solid Batting EYE of .93 are indicators that Damon can rebound from his frigid start.