CLEVELAND -- The Indians' chances of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2007 took a blow on Monday when No. 1 starter Justin Masterson was removed from a game in the second inning. Masterson was diagnosed the next day with a strained oblique.
The timing of the injury couldn't be worse for the Indians, who are still in the race for the two wild-card spots in the American League. Manager Terry Francona said Masterson will miss at least one start, but it's clear that it could be more than that.
"He'll miss at least one start but it's probably reasonable to think he's going to miss a little time. Hopefully it won't be the rest of the season," said Francona.
It's hard to imagine the Indians reaching the postseason if Masterson misses the rest of the regular season.
Masterson would have gotten five more starts in the month of September. Missing one of them is costly for the Indians. Missing all of them would be disastrous. Time will tell how many starts Masterson eventually misses, but the injury is clearly a major blow to the Indians' postseason chances.
Masterson was on his way to his third consecutive 200-inning season and the best year of his career. He was selected to the American League All-Star team and, in 29 starts, is 14-10 with a 3.52 ERA. At the time of his injury, he was second among American League pitchers in complete games (3), third in opponents batting average (.224), third in victories and fourth in innings pitched.
With Masterson sidelined indefinitely, his spot in the rotation will be taken by Corey Kluber, who, conveniently for the Indians, was scheduled to come off the disabled list, where he had been since Aug. 6 with a sprained right middle finger. Kluber will go into Masterson's spot in the rotation and will start Saturday vs. the Mets.