Justin Masterson

Born: 03/22/1985 (Age: 29)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6-6 Weight: 250

Relatively simple; gets to balance point consistently with easy rocker step; lead foot lands in the same spot consistently; arm speed appears diminished from 2013 exposure; arm drags behind body, particularly in stretch; delivery is similar from balance point in windup and kick in stretch; follow through from release is inconsistent and will fall off hard to first-base side at times; varies movement toward plate in stretch from standard kick to shorter slide step; ranged from 1.27-1.56 to plate; delivery needs consistency to allow for improvement in game.

Evaluator Mark Anderson
Report Date 10/27/2014
Arm Angle
Windup Short; quiet
Rubber 1st Base
Present Role Years expected to
perform at current level
45; #5 starter or swing man 1-2 50; #4 starter; has raw ingredients to regain some of prior success and eat innings in MLB rotation.

Pitch Type Present Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 45 88-91 94 Offers traditional four-seam fastball and sinking two-seamer that loses 2-3 mph from four-seam variety; four-seam offering has singular plane to plate because of low arm slot, and can easily be seen by hitters; frequently squared in all outings; backed off four-seam pitch later in year and didn't throw as regularly, relying more heavily on two-seam fastball; good sink to two-seamer with ability to induce weak contact; showed some aptitude for varying velocity from 85-89 mph with two-seam; more effective in 87-88 mph range with a little more sharpness to sink; Overall velo dip from 2013 levels where four-seam sat 92-93 and two-seam sat 90-92; dip in velocity resulted in reduced effectiveness with pitch and must be recovered to regain overall positive impact on game.
Slider 55 79-81 Occasionally sharp with vertical movement; movement doesn't match arm angle and release point, both of which suggest more horizontal movement over vertical movement; break is short but enough to miss the center of the barrel; short break necessitates pitch being started in the zone and typically staying in or very close to the strike zone; lacked dramatic break of two previous seasons but was still only consistent offering that could keep hitters off balance; tried to rely on the pitch too frequently at times and would get barreled more consistently; above-average offering that can compliment fastball very well if velocity returns to allow fastball to stand on its own.
Changeup 40 84-86 Threw at greater frequency in 2014 versus 2013; quality of pitch was still decidedly below average; consistently slowed arm when throwing of changeup; gave pitch away and slower arm appeared to decrease overall effectiveness of pitch; when thrown with conviction and arm speed, pitch will feature good rotation and some sink; increased frequency did not appear to result in improved quality over the course of the season; showed some feel for mixing pitch to his advantage to help induce weak contact, but infrequent quality did not support sequencing of pitch; clearly below average and in need of additional work if usage patterns are to continue.
Pitch Usage*
vs LHH vs RHH
Usage 47.75% 40.02% 11.98% 0.25% 58.14% 25.00% 16.67% 0.19%
Strike 61.21% 61.57% 58.87% 0.00% 63.36% 56.44% 65.91% 100.00%
Swing / Miss 8.54% 4.88% 13.48% 0.00% 11.73% 18.18% 5.11% 0.00%

* Only showing top 5 pitches by pitch count. Stats are for the 2014 season


Attacks the zone with two primary pitches—fastball and slider; has shown ability to throw consistent strikes with all pitches in the past (51.4% in 2013), but regressed in this regard in 2014 (47.7%); worked slowly between pitches and rarely seemed truly comfortable on the mound this year; still attempted to attack the strike zone but could not always execute; lacked attempts at challenging inside with pitches and was rarely successful when he tried to move the fastball to the inner third; needs to regain strike-throwing ability that should enable him to be more aggressive in all parts of the strike zone, as well as out of the strike zone.


Confident on the mound; carries himself with professionalism one would expect of a seven-year veteran; shows some frustration on the bump, mostly with himself, but controls aggravation well and regains composure quickly; displays quality makeup on field.


Slider is still a high-quality offering; calm, cool and collected on the mound; big, durable frame with good strength; track record of durability and chewing up quality innings; movement on fastball can be occasional strength but was not consistent in 2014.


Fastball velocity backed up in 2014 and was not the type of pitch that could consistently beat MLB hitters; changeup remains below average; command and control regressed and was a weakness in 2014; arm speed and ability to keep arm with rest of body throughout delivery must improve/return going forward.

Means of Exploitation

Assuming minimal improvement in ability to command fastball, hitters can remain patient and wait for fringy fastball to come into prime hitting zone, or wait for a walk; have to lay off slider as the pitch represents his only reliable offering; hitters should attack changeup if identified and left up in the strike zone; pitches above mid-thigh can be lifted and driven with authority consistently due to lack of movement in 2014 sample.


Will pitch entire 2015 season at 30-years old; potential bargain on the free agent market; experienced somewhat mysterious drop in velocity in 2014 and if only temporary could result in a strong resurgence during the coming season; worthwhile gamble for any team looking for options at the back of the rotation, and may have even greater likelihood of success if tasked with navigating National League lineups; for relatively minimal cost and likely short-term contract, Masterson represents a low-risk, high-reward signing.

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Before the Price deal, I was intrigued by what Jeff Jones could to with this guy.

In a way I still am.
Future Pirate, I'd suspect. Hot mess, throws sinkers, probably fixable. Ray Searage has a type.
Both the Pirates and Tigers make some sense on a modest, short-term deal. I think there are a lot of teams with quality pitching coaches that make some sense for Masterson. I wouldn't say he's a candidate to really blow up in 2015, but I do think he's a candidate to rebound and be a really solid back-end guy next season; a lot of teams should be taking the gamble if the money/years remain in a reasonable range.
Liriano in 2013, Volquez in 2014, Masterson in 2015, why not? If I were the Pirates I would turn him over to their witch doctor, in residence, and sit back as Masterson mows 'em down.