Indians right-hander Justin Masterson will not make his scheduled start against the Mariners on Sunday because of lingering right knee soreness. As Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, this is not a recent malady:
He said he's been dealing with it since his second start of the season. That would be 16 starts ago.
"It started after my second start of the season," said Masterson, the Indians' ace, who hasn't pitched like an ace this year.
Hoynes goes on to wonder aloud whether that knee injury has been the underlying cause of Masterson's 2014 struggles. After all, this is a 29-year-old hurler who's coming off a breakout 2013 in which he pitched to a 110 ERA+ in 193 innings, made the All-Star team and logged a groundball/fly-ball ratio of 2.40. This season? This season, Masterson after 17 starts has a 5.03 ERA and a 1.70 K/BB ratio (the good news is that the GB/FB ratio is even higher than last year).
It certainly stands to reason that a knee injury spanning almost the entirety of the season could have much to do with those struggles, so some time might be what's needed to get Masterson healthy and untracked. Speaking of which, manager Terry Francona says Masterson will throw a bullpen session over the weekend, and then they'll proceed from there.
Needless to say, an effective Masterson is essential to the Indians' hopes in the compressed AL Central.