The St. Louis Cardinals acquired Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians Wednesday afternoon for AA outfielder James Ramsey. This deal will attempt to stabilize a somewhat struggling Cardinals rotation. Besides Adam Wainwright (13-5, 1.92 ERA) and Lance Lynn (11-8, 2.98 ERA), the rest of the rotation has been less than stellar. Shelby Miller (7-8, 4.20 ERA and Joe Kelly (2-2, 4.37 ERA) have not been the most consistent starters this season and Michael Wacha is out until at least September with a shoulder issue. And we know how important Wacha was in last year’s postseason. The Cardinals also lost Jaime Garcia for the season due to rib surgery so the Cardinals saw an opportunity to go out and improve their starting rotation by adding Masterson.
Masterson (4-6) comes to St. Louis with a tough 2014 season on his shoulders. His 5.51 ERA and 1.65 WHIP shows how much of a struggle he has had but Masterson had a knee issue and it is believed that his velocity dropped a few ticks because of that. The Cardinals are hoping they are getting a healthy Masterson, which you have to believe they are or they would not have made a deal if he wasn’t healthy. They also have to hope he can return to his 2013 form, where he had a 3.45 ERA in 29 starts. The problem with Masterson has always been his control. When he is on, he is almost impossible to hit with that side arm fastball and sweeping slider but when he struggles with his control, walks have a tendency to pile up quickly. Maybe a change of scenery is what is needed for Masterson to turn his season around.
The best part about this move by the Cardinals is it allows flame thrower Carlos Martinez to go back to the pen. Martinez was moved to the rotation due to the Cardinals injury problems but struggled to go deep into ballgames as he never went more than 6 innings and went fewer than 5 innings in 4 out of his 7 starts. Martinez was huge in the postseason last year as he was able to provide multiple innings (12.2) to take the pressure off the rest of the bullpen. Martinez will move back to the pen and could be an important piece to get the ball into Rosenthal’s hands.
Masterson is most likely a rental for the Cardinals as he will be a free agent at the end of the season but who knows; if Masterson can discover his 2013 form and help the Cardinals get deep into the postseason, maybe the Cardinals will decide to keep Masterson around past 2014.