The Cleveland Indians will travel to play the Oakland Athletics for their Opening Day game as Justin Masterson will take the hill in their first game of the season. The 29-year-old pitcher is looking to stop an Oakland lineup that struggled a bit against him last year.
Although he allowed seven earned runs in his two starts against the Athletics in 2013, he held the hitters to just a .208 average and struck out 11. He went deep in both games he threw, something that the Indians could use to start out their season on the West Coast.
This Spring Training, Masterson has a 3-0 record with an incredible 0.95 ERA. He has struck out 20 over 19 innings pitched and has allowed just 11 hits in those frames. Opponents are hitting .175 off of the 6’6″ pitcher – he allowed a .222 total average last year, a season where he won 14 games.
Masterson is going up against Sonny Gray for Oakland. Gray went 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA last year.
Expect the Indians’ pitcher to face several tough matchups during his start, starting with Yoenis Cespedes. The A’s outfielder has a total on-base percentage of .400 against Masterson, including multiple extra-base-hits in 14 at-bats. On the other side of the equation, Masterson has great numbers against Oakland 2nd baseman Alberto Callaspo. He has a career .174 average against Masterson, as he has just four hits in 23 at-bats.
It’s unclear whether the Indians offense will give Masterson run support. This isn’t a lineup that is projected to have a high average, so it might be (very literally) hit or miss for Cleveland in 2014. Gray is a young arm, but he should be able to have success against this lineup, setting up a potential late-night pitching duel.
Look for Masterson and Gray to go back and forth on Monday night. Scheduled first-pitch is 10 p.m. EST.