Many of us don’t recall the 2009 Indians season as a very exciting one. Amidst a slumping performance, the Indians traded away core pieces of the 2007 playoff run to build for the future. One such trade occurred on July 31, 2009 when the Indians dealt Victor Martinez to the Boston Red Sox for three pitchers: Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price (the latter two still being part of the Indians organization). Justin was inserted into the Indians' starting rotation right away, but found himself struggling for the remainder of the 2009 season.
The 2010 season was a stepping stone for Justin. Despite a losing record, he recorded his first complete shutout game (ironically against his former team, Boston). Justin began to hone his wide variety of pitches that season, including his deadly sinker ball and slider. Improvements continued in 2011, when Justin cemented himself as the pitching ace the Indians had hoped for. He finished the season with a 12-10 record—his first winning record in Cleveland.
Things stayed about the same for the Jamaican-born Masterson in 2012. He was named the opening day starter for the Indians (in which he was part of the longest opening day game in MLB history) but regressed to an 11-15 record for the season. Still, he was the best starter on the squad that year and I had the privilege of watching him pitch several times in person. 2013 was by far the best season for Justin, as he finished with a 14-10 record (currently his MLB best) and was elected to his first All-Star Game.
Unfortunately, 2014 came as a stumbling block for Nasty Masty’s time in Cleveland. Armed with a one year contract just shy of ten million dollars, this was supposed to be the season in which Justin made a case for acquiring the long term deal he was hoping for. Bogged down with injuries for a good chunk of this season, Justin did not live up to his expectations, which led the Indians to trade him to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 30, 2014 for outfielder James Ramsey. However, there's one highlight of his this season that I’m proud of: he pitched an immaculate inning (three strikeouts on nine pitches) against his former Boston squad.
I’ll always remember Justin as being a very imposing figure on the pitching mound. Coming in at 6’6’’ and 250 pounds, Masty was downright scary for some opposing batters, especially when he had his full-grown beard. He assassinated batters like his doppelganger Agent 47 assassinated contracts in the Hitman video games. Justin was a beacon of light during the uncertain future of the Indians during the 2009-2011 and became a fixture for the rejuvenated ball club for his remaining time in Cleveland.
with children in Kenya.
Thank you Justin!!!