Likely making his final appearance of the season, Masterson gets the ball when the Indians face the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
The right-hander has pitched a career-high 173 innings - 43 2-3 more than last season with Boston and Cleveland - and was shifted to the bullpen after 28 starts to allow him to continue pitching while keeping his workload down. The Indians (61-86), though, called on him in the first inning Sunday against Minnesota after Mitch Talbot(notes) left due to shoulder inflammation.
Masterson (6-12, 4.73 ERA) ended up pitching seven innings, striking out six and allowing three runs - one earned - in a 6-2 loss.
“Justin did a tremendous job coming in,” manager Manny Acta told the Indians’ official web site. “… They didn’t take very good swings against him at all.”
Masterson will start in Talbot’s spot as he faces the Royals for the second time this season. He gave up two runs in five innings of an 8-4 home loss May 19.
Kansas City (60-86) will counter with Sean O’Sullivan(notes) (2-5, 6.28), who is looking for his first winning start with the Royals. The right-hander was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in July and has gone 1-5 with a 7.40 ERA with the Royals - the win coming in a one-inning relief appearance.
He was staked to a six-run first-inning lead against Chicago on Sunday, but gave up six runs in a season-low three innings of a 12-6 loss.
“… I feel like after the guys go up and put up six runs, then I give four of them back in the first three innings,” O’Sullivan told the Royals’ official web site. “That’s not acceptable, to give momentum right back to their side of the field.”
O’Sullivan, facing the Indians for the first time, has surrendered seven homers in his last three starts.
That may not bode well for his matchups with Cleveland’s Shin-Soo Choo(notes), who hit a career-high three homers - one a grand slam - and matched a career best with seven RBIs in an 11-4 victory Friday. Choo has batted .388 in 22 career games at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City’s Billy Butler(notes), 4 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs on Friday, is 7 for 14 with two home runs and five RBIs in the first four games of this homestand. He has one hit in 12 at-bats versus Masterson, though.
The Royals have dropped 10 of 14.