It's still very early in the season, but to this point the Indians' most improved player has been Justin Masterson. The big right-hander was 6-13 last year, but he is 4-0 this year after pitching six solid innings Wednesday in Cleveland's 7-5 win over Kansas City.
Masterson, who had a 4.70 ERA last year, has a 1.71 ERA this year. One of the keys to his newfound success is his ability to minimize damage and pitch out of jams.
On Wednesday night, Masterson also showed his ability to make in-game corrections when necessary. In the first inning, he gave up two runs on three hits, then settled down, pitching scoreless ball over the next five innings while allowing just three hits.
It has been a turnaround season for Masterson, who is the only player of the three prospects the Indians got from Boston in the 2009 trade of Victor Martinez who has made any impact on Cleveland's major league roster. Last year, Masterson didn't get his fourth win until Aug. 4.
Masterson's strong start to the 2011 season has been instrumental in helping the Indians rotation as a whole get off to a fast start. In the last 16 games, Cleveland starters are 10-2 with a 2.43 ERA.
With No. 5 starter Mitch Talbot on the disabled list and expected to remain there for four to six weeks with a right elbow strain, the burden will fall to the rest of the starters to pick up the slack. Masterson, off to the best start of his career by far, is leading the way.
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