Masterson shows ‘better stuff' out of bullpen


ANAHEIM -- With two losses and no runs scored in the first two games in the second half, bright spots have been at a premium for the Red Sox.

But the work of Justin Masterson Saturday night was, at the very least, encouraging and suggests that Masterson could be of some use to the club after all.

Masterson took over in the sixth inning when Rick Porcello had already thrown 102 pitches through five. Masterson pitched three scoreless innings and allowed just two baserunners in that span with a hit batsman and a single.

He got seven swings-and-misses and the fastball velocity, which had been stuck at 87-88 mph earlier in the year, was regularly at 90-91 mph

"Better stuff, more consistent late action to his two-pitch mix," noted manager John Farrell Saturday night. "He's thrown twice out of the bullpen now, and (Saturday) was better stuff all the way around. More velocity, more late action. He was pretty consistent (with his velocity) and he held it from his first pitch through the three innings."

The improved velocity, noted Farrell, was likely related to the bullpen role.

"Knowing it's going to be a short exposure, subconsciously, you're not going to pace yourself,'' said Farrell. "I think that was part of it (Saturday) night.''

For the most part, because he's stretched out as a starter, the Red Sox view Masterson mostly as a multi-inning option, able to provide long relief.

But that's not exclusively his role.

"I can tell you right now there's not a reluctance to bring him in if we needed a ground ball double play,'' said Farrell. "We're looking to cherry-pick spots to get him back in there.''

Farrell said he wouldn't ask Masterson to beyond 60 pitches in a single outing, and after outings like Saturday, he would need two days to recover.

But there's no denying the value he has in allowing the Sox to rest the remainder of the bullpen by pitching him multiple innings -- especially when he's throwing as well as he did Saturday night.

"That's as good as he's thrown the ball maybe all year,'' said Masterson, "when you consider the consistent action, the consistent location. He was very good last night.''

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