#5 Starter: Justin Masterson
2014 Stats (with Cleveland & St. Louis): 7 wins, 9 losses, 5.88 ERA, 1.632 WHIP, 128.2 innings, 116 K’s, 4.50 FIP
Let that 2014 stat line sink in for a second. He was the Opening Day starter for the Cleveland Indians last year. Like Buchholz, his FIP suggests he was a little better than his ERA shows, but the Red Sox need a much better year from the 29-year-old. Hopefully a reunion with his former team will help; I know a lot of people in the Red Sox organization still think very highly of him since his days here but he will need more than character to succeed in Boston this year.
Masterson is the other starter I mentioned who I have concerns about sticking in the rotation. The scariest part about Masterson is his platoon split. There is a sentiment that Masterson is better suited in a relief duty because he proved himself to be a much better pitcher against righty hitters. In 2014, he struggled to an impressive degree when facing left-handed hitters with a .320 BAA as compared to a .239 ERA versus right-handed hitters. That would make him a very good specialist out of the bullpen (or a strong option to start against the Red Sox lineup) but is a viable source of concern to have against Masterson’s ability to turn things around this year.
Masterson will need to hold up against hitters from both sides and if he cannot, he will be a good candidate to move to the bullpen but will leave the Red Sox with a hole at the back end of their rotation. But unlike with Buchholz, if Masterson does fail as a starter the team will have options to replace him internally including promising pitching prospects Matt Barnes, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson, and Henry Owens.