Justin Masterson is Francona’s best bet for closer. The Indians were able to close the regular season with 10 straight wins despite having to pull Chris Perez from the closer’s spot. He seems very comfortable in that spot, and the Indians might as well plan on him for the wild card game. Although Masterson would prefer to be in the regular rotation for the postseason, he should stay in the bullpen if the Indians make the divisional series.
In his first 30 games this season, Masterson was 14-10 with a 3.50 ERA. He missed more than three weeks of action after sustaining a left oblique injury against the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 2. The Indians liked what they saw in his return last Wednesday against the White Sox, and he did the job again this weekend.
Because the playoff season can be short one, the Indians have no choice but to continue their present rotation and use Masterson in relief where he will be effective. He has all of next season to return back to the starter’s spot. Right now, Francona needs to use the best pitching lineup he can to keep the Indians on a winning path and to keep extending their season. He did not rule out that Perez could still see action. But in upcoming games, when the outcome is still in doubt, the Indians should go with Masterson in the late innings.