Throughout the offseason, as the Indians were adding numerous players to their roster, right-hander Justin Masterson remained the Cleveland Indians' presumed No.1 starter. They did add some pitching depth, but none of those new additions were expected to compete with Masterson for the No.1 spot in the rotation.
Despite coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, Masterson's No.1 status in the rotation was confirmed by manager Terry Francona, who has named Masterson as the club's opening day starter April 2 in Toronto.
There really wasn't much competition for the job. Presumed No.2 starter Ubaldo Jimenez, like Masterson, had a very poor 2012 season, but, again, the Indians added no pitchers during the offseason who could logically be slotted ahead of Masterson and Jimenez, who combined to lose 32 games last season.
This will be the second career opening day assignment for Masterson, who in 34 starts last year was 11-15 with a 4.93 ERA. One of his best starts last year was his first career opening day start, which was also against Toronto -- a 7-4 Indians loss in 16 innings.
Masterson in that game pitched eight innings and allowed one run on two hits while striking out 10 with one walk. It was mostly downhill from there for Masterson the rest of the season, but when it came time to designate an opening day starter for 2013, he was always the obvious choice.
"He is the leader of our staff, and he's taken the responsibility that comes with that," said Francona. "It's appropriate (that he get the opening day start). It's an honor and I know he takes it that way."
Francona said he will wait until later in spring training before announcing his decision on any other spots in the rotation. However, it's expected that Jimenez will be the No.2 starter and Brett Myers No. 3. Zach McAllister appears to have a leg up on the No. 4 spot, and there are six candidates for the No. 5 spot.