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Fantasy Baseball 2014 Sleeper: Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In fantasy baseball, the draft is won by selecting the top-tier and best available guys. Your league is won with the late-round sleeper picks that you draft in round 22 when no one else is paying attention.

One player, more specifically a starting pitcher, that would be a steal in the later rounds is Cleveland Indians pitcher Justin Masterson.

Masterson spent a couple of years with the Boston Red Sox both as a starter and relief pitcher before being traded to Cleveland. He struggled in his first full season as a starter, going 6-13 with a 4.70 ERA. He came back strong in 2011, finishing with a 12-10 record and 3.21 ERA. Masterson had another poor performance in 2012. He went 11-15 and had a 4.93 ERA.

This past season was Masterson’s best on many levels. He had his best win-loss record of his career, going 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA. He also had more than one strikeout per inning, 9.1 strikeouts per nine, for the first time in his career. His 1.202 WHIP was his lowest as well.

Masterson is the clear-cut ace of the Indians staff. While that isn’t saying much as you look at the No. 2 through 5 pitchers, Masterson has improved greatly since arriving in Cleveland. Masterson isn’t one to rack up 10 strikeouts per game, but will get you wins and keep his ERA at a reasonable level. If you’re in a league that replaces wins with quality starts, then Masterson has much greater value. Of his 10 losses, three of them were quality starts (six IP and three or less earned runs).

Masterson is worth the risk as a middle round draft pick. He is projected to finish with at least 11 wins and 10 losses, but a 3.50 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Masterson will fit well in standard leagues as a high-end No. 4 starting pitcher.

Bill Pivetz is a fantasy sports writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Piv1127.