Masterson open to receiving feedback on mechanics
BALTIMORE -- Hesitant to shower Justin Masterson with too many new ideas and philosophies immediately upon his joining a new club, the Cardinals, after watching him pitch twice, are now positioned to increase the feedback and offer fresh suggestions that they hope will help the right-hander turn around his season.
"It's not like he walked in and we said nothing, but we first wanted to hear where he's been," manager Mike Matheny said of Masterson, who was acquired in a July 30 trade with Cleveland. "I think the greatest thing we can do is first listen to what this guy's saying and catch up to what Cleveland had been doing and trying to get him to do, so we can understand why he's doing what he's doing.
"We've been in that mode of just gathering information because there is nothing worse for a guy than for us to come in and say, 'OK, scrap all that stuff you've been working on.' He may have been going in the right direction, but still in the process. So tell us where you are. We've been listening to that."
Masterson's first start for the Cardinals was better than his second, which lasted only two innings on Friday. He had particular trouble with the feel of his sinker, a pitch integral to Masterson's success. Last season, he rode it to a 14-win, All-Star season.
This year, he has battled release point, mechanics, a compromised right knee and velocity drop. His ERA is more than two runs higher than it was a year ago. He has allowed five or more runs in 11 of 21 starts.
"Right now, he's trying to get it in the right place, which doesn't allow him to let it eat," Matheny said. "Once he gets a good feel with where he is mechanically, I think that allows him to ramp up and use his lower half a little bit better."
Matheny also noted that Masterson, instead of waiting for feedback from a new set of coaches, has also been quick to seek it out. After coming out of Friday's game, Masterson sought out Adam Wainwright to talk mechanics.
"It wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be," Masterson said of Friday's outing. "We don't feel that far off either. Last outing, I felt really good about getting through pitches. This one didn't feel as crisp. But I think being able to dissect both of them as we go should lead to a better next outing."
Masterson's next start is scheduled for Wednesday in Miami. He'll be able to begin incorporating any suggested mechanical adjustments on Sunday, when he throws his between-starts bullpen.