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Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 7/6
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum

Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Justin Masterson was brilliant Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Cleveland won the game Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Lonnie Chisenhall home run Derek Jeter Derek Jeter Derek Jeter.  Jeter.















Smog (51-34)













Indians (46-39)













W: Masterson (7-6)        L: P. Hughes (0-2)          S: C. Perez (21)


Y’know, if it’s all the same to you, I don’t actually LIKE late-inning excitement like THAT.


0) Administrative Note


Although the game was on ESPN, I DVR’d it instead of watching it live, watching “the dots” of GameCast instead because only 20% of my household could give a Rolling O about sports.  So when Carlos Santana grounded out to third to strand three runners, I Tweeted my frustration from the perspective of a guy who saw Santana foul off what appeared to be a ball and should have walked on four pitches, then didn’t drive the ball to the outfield but rather “merely grounded out to third.”  Upon seeing the replay, this Tweet was misguided at best and staggeringly inappropriate at worst.  He clobbered that ball, and Alex Rodriguez made a nice play.  Still shouldn’t swing at balls, though.  But I was wrong.


1) The difference between “impossible” and “difficult”


Through his career, Justin Masterson has been known primarily for four things:


a) He is enormous
b) He has strikeout stuff
c) He has groundball stuff for those who don’t strike out
d) Left-handed hitters clobber him


Of all these things, (a) is unlikely to change, at least not until he’s in his 70s or 80s.  He actually has a lower K/9 rate this season than he has in the past, but some of that is colored by his relief stints: it’s easier to rack up high strikeout numbers when you go full-bore for an inning or so than when you’re running through a lineup three or four times.  His groundball rate is not as high as last seasons, but is higher than he recorded as a Red Sok, so it’s close to his career number.


His performance against left-handed hitters, though, probably has the greatest impact on where he will slot in as a starter.  Any guy who throws 95 with late movement has to be considered a legitimate threat to become Very Good.  It is hardly a guarantee, as evidenced by Infuriausto Carmona.


Masterson’s delivery causes problems against left-handeds, both real and perceived.  What I mean by this is that Masterson really HAS had poor numbers against left-handers, but he also LOOKS like he SHOULD.  Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smiff have this same issue to varying degrees, but as a 6-foot guy, Pestano’s don’t seem as pronounced.  In contrast, Masterson is 6’6” and just LOOKS like he’s giving left-handers about a week and a half to look at his pitch coming in.


The real problems are evidenced by his numbers:


2009: .323/.407/.470, 51:37 K:BB ratio


Not only were lefties tattooing him, but he seemed to know it and missed a lot trying to do something to avoid it.


2010: .290/.370/.414, 58:46 K:BB ratio


If anything, that might be even WORSE in terms of missing the strike zone, but at least the slugging is coming down.


2011: .284/.330/.387, 39:16 K:BB ratio


The different in the AVG is barely perceptible.  The ISO is barely .100, but that’s not a quantum leap better than last season.


No, the difference is that Justin Masterson has figured out that he can get left-handed hitters out with his pitches and throws them for more strikes.


In his last game, Masterson allowed left-handed batters to go 1-for-9 off him.  Last night, counting switch-hitters hitting left-handed against Masterson, they went 0-for-19.  Oh for nineteen!  That is, to borrow a phrase from Jonah Keri, crizazzlebeans.


Masterson sawed through the Yankees’ lineup, allowing 2 walks and 3 hits in 8 scoreless innings.  He was pitching so well that I psychically asked Manny Acta to send him back out for the 8th even though he’d crossed the 100-pitch mark in the 7th.  (Manny “listened,” insofar as I was asking for something truly obvious and he agreed to do the obvious thing.)  His ERA on the season is 2.66.  This ranks 8th in the A.L. among (inning) qualified starters, although it is worth mentioning that his WHIP of 1.22 is 2nd-highest in the top 15, and his 86 Ks are 2nd-lowest in the top 10.  But if a pitcher begs out of the All-Star Game due to pitching Sunday or straining a hamstring or coming down with an emergency Inflammation of the Fishing Trip, Ron Washington could do worse than add Justin Masterson as a replacement, especially since he actually knows how to enter the game as a reliever.


2) Ducks on the ducks on the pond!


They’re stacking ducks!


In the 7th inning, Lonnie Chisenhall lifted a deep fly over the fence for his first career home run.  The other three batters made outs.  This was the ONLY INNING in which the Indians did NOT leave a runner on base.


The Tribe TWICE loaded the bases and scored ZERO RUNS.


They hit 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-3 from Asdrubal Cabrera, whom I would have identified as the batter in the lineup I would MOST like to have had up in those situations.  They ended up leaving 13 men on base overall.  If not for some very amusing defense by Russ Martin and some truly execrable blunderbussery from Sergio Meat-Ray (h/t Steven Goldman there), this might have gone down as one of the toughest losses to swallow on the season.


3) Gone E. Chisenhall


Chisenhall’s homer was not only his first career major-league shot, but it came off nominal left-hander Switchblade Boone Logan.  It was his first career major-lgeaue HIT off a left-handed pitcher.  He is now slugging .800 off left-handed pitching in his career.  This meshes nicely with his 80% career strikeout rate against left-handed pitching.


All of this is rather a long way of saying two things:


a) Lonnie Chisenhall has a pretty swing
b) Boone Logan is bad


4) Further proof


Amusingly enough, this wasn’t necessarily the least-impressive thing Logan did last night.  Brought in to face the left-handed Travis Hafner, he hit Hafner with his FIRST PITCH.  He then gave up the rocket to righty-batting Carlos Santana, but was bailed out by Rodriguez.


5) This having been said


Boone Logan is roughly umpty-million times more valuable than Sergio Mitre.


6) Managerial Back-Patters


Chapter three zillion in why Manny Acta is the manager and I am not: Austin Kearns.


I was struck by an offhand comment Acta made about Kearns to the effect that Kearns was having a tough time because he wasn’t playing every day and was having trouble adjusting to sporadic play.


I stand by my previous assessment of Kearns, but it does bear mentioning that since starting to play regularly, he has hits in his last 4 games and reached base twice last night.  He’s also a much more credible right fielder than anyone else we have on the roster, and has more speed on the bases than I gave him credit for.


The balance to be struck, of course, is that to maximize Kearns’ contibution, he must play regularly.  To maximize the TEAM’S ability, you need someone who can produce at a level that supports regular play.  I am not sure these things meet in the middle, so to speak.


7) Credit Where Credit is Due Dept.


Mike Brantley banged out a pair of singles, walked once, and scored twice.  If you had the “Kearns and Brantley reach base back-to-back … twice in a row” quadfecta, you likely made a lot of money last night.


8) Less Credit Where Less Credit is Due Dept.


Brantley’s approach to trying to snare Nick Swisher’s 9th-inning double was … suboptimal.


9) Thumper Rule


Vinnie Pestano.


10) Ho Hum Dept.


Chris Perez retired all three hitters he faced, including a NASTY-looking pitch for strike three to end the game.  Note that while two runs scored on groundouts, this was probably a function of the 4-run lead rather than any defensive shortcomings by the Tribe.

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