Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has chosen Justin Masterson to be the opening day starter against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 2 in Toronto. Francona let Masterson know at Goodyear Ballpark prior to the game today against the Kansas City Royals. Masterson pitched to a 4.93 ERA in 34 starts for the Indians in 2012 across 206 1/3 innings. He walked 88 and struck out 159.
Ubaldo Jimenez 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA in 31 starts in 2012 will now likely be slotted in the number two spot followed by Brett Myers who signed a one-year, $7 million deal with Cleveland over the winter. That leaves right-hander Zach McAllister the early favorite for the fourth job. Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber, Daisuke Matsuzaka and David Huff will battle for the final opening.
The Indians signed Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, and Michael Bourn to free-agent deals over the winter but were not nearly as aggressive in pursuing starting pitching. Offensively the Indians should be fine in the American League Central.
Last year the Indians lost 94 games, but they were 24-12 (.667) in one-run games, the second-best winning percentage in the big leagues. Chris Perez has saved 75 games in the past two seasons. Vinnie Pestano went 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA over 70 appearances in 2012 recording 36 holds. The Cleveland bullpen is sound. The problem for the Indians in 2012 will getting to the seventh-inning with the lead.