Question: How do you turn Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jon Lester into David Pauley, Jon Lester, and Justin Masterson?
With a flu mini-epidemic tearing through the Red Sox clubhouse, the team turned today to yet another youngster, 23-year-old righthander Justin Masterson. Boston’s second-round pick in the 2006 amateur draft, Masterson was brought up from AA Portland to make the start originally scheduled for Lester, who had actually pitched the night before on three days rest when Matsuzaka was too sick to go.
Masterson made his major league debut this afternoon, limiting the Los Angeles Angels to one run on two hits in six innings. He struggled with his control a bit, walking four, but also struck out four. The only run came on a fifth inning homerun by catcher Mike Napoli.
He departed with a 3-1 lead and was in line to pick up the win before the bullpen trio of Javier Lopez, Manny Delcarmen, and Hideki Okajima combined to allow four runs in the seventh (somehow, Okajima’s ERA emerged from the mess unscathed).
If I’m not mistaken, this means that every player the Red Sox offered to Minnesota in exchange for Johan Santana has seen action at Fenway Park this season (with the possible exception of Michael Bowden – I don’t remember if his name came up in the trade talks). Masterson, Ellsbury, Lowrie, Lester, Crisp, Buchholz – am I leaving anyone out? More importantly, all of those players have shown at least flashes of brilliance, helping Sox fans to understand why, exactly, Theo Epstein was so reluctant to part with them, even for a talent as transcendent as Santana’s.
(Thanks to YFSF for the tip on Masterson’s start)