Justin Masterson

Thursday’s Red Sox-Phillies matchups: Justin Masterson vs. David Buchanan

April 09, 2015 - 4:17 am

In the series finale between the Red Sox and Phillies, during which Boston will look to make up for its 4-2 Wednesday night loss, Justin Masterson and David Buchanan will take the mound for their respective clubs. Though Masterson technically is a newcomer to the Sox, and one of the various additions the team made to the pitching staff in the offseason, he is not an unfamiliar face. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was chosen by Boston in the second round of the 2006 draft, but he was traded in July of 2009 to the Indians with Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez. Midway through the 2014 season Masterson was traded to the Cardinals for James Ramsey, and while in St. Louis he struggled. Battling myriad injuries last season, Masterson recorded some of the worst numbers in his career. His ERA hovered around six for much of August and September, falling to 5.88 by his final start. In addition, on all but one of his pitches Masterson's velocity fell. His sinker decreased from 91.1 mph in 2013 to 88.5 mph in 2014 and, similarly, his slider and four-seamer dropped by two and 2.8 mph, respectively. "There was never really a point where everything was right," Masterson said at the beginning of spring training. "I was trying to tough guy through it, which probably isn't the smartest thing to do, but it's a great learning experience." With health and a one-year, $9.5 million contract with incentives on his side now, the 30-year-old will look to get back to his prior form in doing what most of the Sox rotation this year is doing: getting batters to ground out. And he's been relatively successful so far. In six starts and 23 innings of work over the course of spring training, Masterson posted a 3-1 record and a 3.52 ERA. He issued 10 strikeouts but allowed batters to reach base on walks seven times, about once every three innings. The real test will come Thursday evening when he gets his first taste of regular season action in 2015. Masterson has started two games against the Phillies, appeared in four and registered a 5.56 ERA in just 11 1/3 innings pitched against them. He has allowed 13 hits, five walks and seven earned runs, though he has nine strikeouts in that time as well. On the equally red but more pinstripe-y side of the ball, David Buchanan is certainly less battle-tested than Masterson. Entering just his sophomore year as a pitcher at the major league level, Buchanan was part of a 2014 Phillies team that finished last in its division with a 73-89 record, just two wins better than the Red Sox' 2014 total. He ended the year with a 6-8 record and a 3.75 ERA over 117 2/3 innings pitched, leaning on a combination of his four-seam and two-seam fastballs, along with his changeup. While players like Allen Craig and Pablo Sandoval have faced Buchanan before, they did not do so as members of the Red Sox. Since he's so new to the league, Buchanan has never faced Boston in a game. Red Sox vs. Buchanan (RHP) Allen Craig (3 plate appearances): .000 AVG/.000 OBP/.000 SLG, 2 strikeouts Pablo Sandoval (3): .000/.000/.000 Phillies vs. Masterson (RHP) Ben Revere (31 plate appearances): .233 AVG/.258 OBP/.233 SLG, 4 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Jeff Francoeur (29): .310/.310/.379, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 5 strikeouts Grady Sizemore (9): .111/.111/.222, 1 double, 3 strikeouts Ryan Howard (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Chase Utley (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 RBI Carlos Ruiz (4): .667/.750/.667 Andres Blanco (3): .667/.667/1.000, 1 double, 2 RBI Cody Asche (2): .500 /.500/.500 Aaron Harang (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Jerome Williams has an RBI on a sacrifice bunt in one plate appearance.