From Mark Sheldon:

When the season ended, Masset still had respectable numbers with a 3.71 ERA over 75 games pitched. It was his third consecutive year making at least 74 appearances. However, there were prolonged stretches of struggle in between moments of dominance.

“It’s kind of been a roller coaster, up and down,” Masset said just before the season ended. “I’ve had some highs and some lows. I definitely missed with some of my pitches. I had a hard time with my cutter and slider, which got me into trouble at times. Being a reliever and having that many pitches, sometimes it can be difficult for you when they are not all locked in.”

Masset had a 3-6 record and 62 strikeouts with 76 hits, 31 walks and five home runs allowed in 70 1/3 innings. He was charged with six blown saves, and 11 of his 28 inherited runners scored.

“In the case of Masset, it’s more of missed location and pitch selection to me, versus a loss of stuff,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker.

Much like he experienced in 2010, Masset’s ’11 season started poorly, and he spent the rest of the season chipping away at a high ERA. Through his first five appearances, he was 0-3 with a 9.95 ERA and accounted for three of Cincinnati’s first four losses of the season.

In a 34-appearance stretch from May 3-July 19, Masset posted a 1.36 ERA. Then, in August, he had a 7.20 ERA over 12 games. The pendulum swung back upward down the stretch in September, when Masset had a 1.04 ERA over his final 11 outings.

“It’s been a battle. I stayed positive all the way through,” Masset said.

The 29-year-old is different from some late-inning relievers in that he regularly uses four different pitches rather than a basic fastball and off-speed pitch. His best two pitches are a sinker and curveball — the former usually saves the Reds from jams in the late innings. It helped net 11 double plays in 2009 and seven in ’10.

In 2011, Masset’s double-play total dropped to four.

The right-hander had no plans to drop his two struggling pitches or streamline his repertoire.

“It’s something I can work on in the offseason, coming into next year,” Masset said. “I have some things I want to get better with. I definitely won’t cut it out, because I think it will take away more than help me out.”

He’s arbitration eligible….and Jocketty says he’s in the team’s plans. What’s he worth?

There is always talk about how good his stuff is and I didn’t realize he threw 4 pitches…wonder why they never thought of him as a starter? He started up through AA ball..

8 Responses

  1. Sultan of Swaff

    You could make an argument for using him as a starter much in the same way you could make an equally compelling argument for making Volquez a closer. But on this team, it’s a non-starter because of our depth at SP and the ensuing hole it would leave in the bullpen. The ChiSox used him as a starter even as he broke in to the bigs, but his inability to stick there was the main reason we got him on the cheap. I agree with Dusty that location and selection cost him dearly. Like Chapman, when Masset was going badly, he couldn’t locate the offspeed stuff and opposing teams sat on his fastball. To that end, as good as his curve is when on, I’d like to see him mess with a slider in ST, which can be controlled a little more reliably. It’s nice to have 4 pitches, but realistically, you should only use the weaker 2 as show me pitches. You get outs with your best 2. I don’t think he’s helping himself by being a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

  2. pinson343

    @Sultan of Swaff: It’s just not clear what his 2 best pitchers are. His curve is his out pitch when he can throw it for strikes, but often he can’t. His sinker is his DP pitch, he was effective with that in 2009 and 2010.

    You mention a slider, he already has one, he hung it a lot last year. He also made a lot of mistakes with his cutter.

    I don’t know what to suggest, but he shoudn’t drop his curve ball. Whatever he goes with, he has to improve his command.

    I think he’ll be better in 2012 than 2011, but that’s not saying a lot.

  3. BJ Ruble

    They tried him as a starter and he was nearly cut; until they decided to keep him as the last guy in the pen. He went from long relief to a set up role, much like they could do with LeCure (based on the way he pitched last season).

    Overall, he has good movement on his pitches, but seems to have control issues (another reason he failed as a starter). Honestly, I think he is due for a good year next year, but I wouldn’t want to commit too much money too him because his role could easily be replaced. Relievers are very much like high risk/high reward stocks – they can go in either direction in a hurry.

    I say go to arbitration, if he does well and you are in contention, great. If he does well and you are not in contention, trade him. If he doesn’t do well, it would only be a one year deal and replace him with LeCure and Boxberger.

  4. ARFoskey

    The reason why he is not a starter is that he is a headcase. Just like Volquez. The problem with the Reds is that they get soo enamored with guys who have “the stuff”, but they don’t know how to coach/control these guys emotions. Volquez and Masset are our most inconsistent pitchers we have where every time they go out, I hold my breath and hope to God they don’t blow the game wide open. Until the Reds get a complete staff who have won many times before and become consistent winners, they should cut ties with guys like Volquez and Masset while their trade ability is still good. And I have been saying since we got Masset that I think he is awful. He is probably my most disliked RED since Encarnacion.

  5. dn4192

    Well it’s good to see that the Reds are not the only team to overpay for a closer…

    reports have Phillies signing Red Sox closer for $50 million for 4 years….ouch

  6. preach

    @dn4192: It’s easier to spend that kind of money on an ‘elite’ closer when your starting staff can be pencilled in for 7 every night. If your staff is getting shelled through 5, then he rarely pitches in anything meaningful.

    Not saying I agree with it, but it sure makes it easier to understand.

  7. earl

    Nick Masset is a pretty streaky pitcher and this year he didn’t have the extended hot streak that he did in 2010 and 2009. The guy was pretty ace in 2010 when the Reds got hot, ran away and took the division.

    I do think probably more than Ondrusek or really any reliever in Dusty’s time as manager, Masset has probably gotten the most screwed in Baker’s getting greedy with his starter in the 7th inning. I don’t know how many times Dusty has gotten six solid and then waits until there is 2nd and 3rd and like 1 out with the heart of the opposing lineup coming THEN goes to the bullpen. That’s pretty much like putting 4 bullets in the gun and playing Russian Roulette and to be honest, often that guy getting that little chance of success assignment was Masset.

  8. redmountain

    Masset was given the chance to be a starter and was not able to win the job. Baker was brought up in an era where starters worked their way out of difficulty. He also came to the Reds with many believing that he burned out his starters so the pendulum is apparently swinging the other way. The point is, Baker is not the problem here. He cannot get it right for so many people and he is blamed for many things that he has no control of at all. I am not defending him, I do not think he has great game management skills, but to live up to the things that people expect from him is ludicrous. Remember that Torre was no good until he got to the Yankees and the Reds fired Sparky Anderson. The starters need to step up, the relievers have to step up, and the position players have to step up, otherwise it wont make any difference who the manager or coaches are.