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Indians News: Justin Masterson Named Opening-Day Starter

Cleveland Indians newsCleveland 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.

Don is a lifelong baseball fan and loves to look inside the game for stories not everyone sees. He served as a Tampa Bay Rays correspondent for ESPN Fantasy Baseball. His style has been described as direct , and he wont likely change.