Cheap Seats

August 24, 2014

St. Louis Cardinals need to pull the plug on Justin Masterson

Cheap Seats

Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

I don't see how the St. Louis Cardinals can afford to allow Justin Masterson to pitch again.

Somehow he pitched one good game in the three weeks he has been with the Redbirds. But all of the rest of his starts have been beyond terrible.

While his ineffectiveness in a St. Louis uniform has been brief, his season numbers show he was a mess long before he arrived from Cleveland. Masterson's got a 5.88 ERA spread out over 24 starts. He's averaging well over half a walk per inning and on Sunday he was having trouble not only throwing strikes -- but in throwing balls close enough to the catcher that they could be prevented from going all the way to the backstop.

The Cardinals were within half a game of first place when Masterson toed the rubber Sunday. But he was terrible right off the bat and put his team down by three runs before the Redbirds knew what hit them. Whether or not I thought it was a reasonable reaction, you could see the position players shoulders slump and the infielders get back on their heels. In short, the Birds basically gave a key game away by putting a guy on the mound that gave them no chance to win.

And it wasn't just that the Phillies showed up loaded for bear and no one the Cardinals put on the mound could have stopped them. Once Masterson departed, Lee Greenwood came in out of the bullpen and put up zeroes in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before tiring.

I've heard all about how Masterson is a super nice guy. So it's a shame to see him suffering through such an awful period. But, while I don't wish him any ill, Masterson can't be allowed to continue throwing games on the trash heap because no one wants to hurt his feelings.

I strongly believe the knee injury that put him on the disabled list while he was with the Indians is still bothering Masterson. He has no consistency in his delivery and seems as if he can't finish his pitches. I'm sure he has a lot of pride as a professional, so he wants to be out there to find a way. And he also wants to prove he's healthy because he was in line to make a whole pile of money as a free agent this winter.

But those are not the Cardinals primary concerns at this point. Thet need to give themseves the best chance to win games. And to do that they need to replace Masterson in the starting rotation with Carlos Martinez before Martinez, who recently returned to St. Louis from the Class AAA Memphis starting rotation, loses his endurance sitting in the bullpen.

Hopefully it will only be a temporary arrangement because there is hope that Michael Wacha will soon be back from his shoulder blade injury. But the Cardinals can't wait around for Wacha. They need to fix their starting rotation issue now.

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About Cheap Seats

Scott Wuerz has reported for the Belleville News-Democrat since 1998​. He writes about the St. Louis Cardinals from a fan's perspective in his Cheap Seats blog.

Contact him at swuerz@bnd.com.

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