For the majority of the season the story of the starting pitching rotation for the Cleveland Indians was simple enough to understand. Justin Masterson is steady good and the rest are all over the place. That is in fact one of the major reasons they were on the outside of the playoff picture looking in just a couple of months ago. When Masterson went down with a muscle injury, the rest of the Tribe’s starting pitchers began pitching much better. The result is the Indians in the heap of the wildcard playoff picture. Now what for Masterson?
Now that he is back but the team doesn’t really need him as a starter, Masterson has thrown a few times out of the bullpen. With the postseason just around the corner, I think a full-fledge move to the bullpen for the playoffs would be very risky. Masterson has been a good pitcher all year but his still includes a lot of walks along with the strikeouts. In a playoff game that method can very quickly get a pitcher in trouble.
For this reason alone, I would think that Masterson should be seriously limited in what roles he can play during the postseason. I doubt he is healthy enough to be a starter but his style of pitching doesn’t exactly lend itself to reliable postseason reliever right now. I could really see the best option for Masterson to be that of a long reliever.
He wouldn’t have to come in and work five out of six days but he would be available for an emergency long relief stint in the case of one of the current Indians starters having an early exit in a playoff game. If I were advising Terry Francona, that is what I would do.