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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Analyzing Justin Masterson's value

If you drafted Justin Masterson, it could have been as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a mixed league.

After his loss Sunday, Masterson's fifth in seven decisions this season, you likely are very frustrated with your draft-day investment (which might pale in comparison to the feelings of the most ardent Tribe fans).

Is it time to bench Masterson, if you haven't done so already?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is to play the matchup game with him from here on out, and play him in weeks in which he is starting twice, assuming he is still producing at least at his current rate (which isn't as bad as you might think).

Masterson is 2-5 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. He has struck out 53 in 74 1/3 innings.

As I tweeted tonight, the difference in the 2011 Masterson (the one who was 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.28 WHIP) and the 2012 version is his high walk rate.

This season, Masterson has walked one batter every two innings (4.5 per nine frames). Last year, he walked 2.7 batters per nine innings. His hits allowed per nine innings (9.1 in 2012 and 8.8 in 2011) and strikeouts per nine (6.4 this season and 6.6 last season) are pretty similar.

Will he pull it together? You're guess is as good as mine.

What I can tell you is Masterson has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts. I would continue to play him most weeks -- but this isn't one of those instances.

On Saturday, the Indians will play at St. Louis, and Masterson is scheduled to pitch against the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse (5-1, 3.36 ERA). In 24 home games this season, the Cardinals have batted .297 and averaged 5.9 runs per contest. In that span, they have hit 32 home runs and have a very impressive .853 OPS.

Translation: Bad matchup for a guy who's having a bad year.

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