Justin Masterson wouldn?t mind breaking a few radar guns. It?s just not the be-all and end-all for him.
Masterson has been working with diminished velocity dating back to last season. The Boston Red Sox starter typically sits in the mid- to high-80s with his fastball nowadays — rather than the low- to mid-90s he once threw — but doesn?t see it as being a detriment to his effectiveness moving forward.
?If it comes, it comes,? Masterson told the Boston Herald?s Jason Mastrodonato before Wednesday?s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. ?If it doesn?t, you have to slice and dice with what you got. You really have to pitch. So in the end, velocity may not make a difference if you can separate what you were before from what you are now and use what you got.?
Masterson?s four-seam fastball averaged a career-high 94.16 mph in 2011, according to BrooksBaseball.net. He averaged 93.97 mph with the pitch in 2013. The 30-year-old has pitched well in two of three starts to begin this season with a fastball averaging 88.52 mph, though, so perhaps it?s not farfetched to think he could succeed with a little less gas, especially if his slider is on point.
?It depends,? Masterson told Mastrodonato when asked if velocity is overrated. ?Sometimes it can be a sign of being hurt or something. Sometimes it?s the sign of somebody who is trying to work back.
?I?m trying to get to where I was before, but also what?s hard as a player, you?re like, ?Velocity, velocity, velocity.? Then you?re trying to overthrow and your stuff isn?t going to be as good because you?re trying to throw through your stuff. And if you have sink, you?re going to be throwing through your sink. You won?t be as good, you might be off with your control.?
The important thing for Masterson at this point is that he?s healthy. The veteran hurler dealt with injuries for much of last season, leading to his worst major league campaign to date.
A little more zip would be nice, of course. Just don?t expect Masterson to mail it in if the velocity doesn?t return.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images