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Masterson employs fastball-heavy repertoire

Masterson employs fastball-heavy repertoire

Masterson employs fastball-heavy repertoire
MINNEAPOLIS -- The excessive heat warning that has been in effect for parts of Minnesota reached the mound at Target Field on Tuesday night. That is where Indians starter Justin Masterson almost exclusively featured heaters.

During Cleveland's 2-1 loss to the Twins, Masterson veered from an all-fastball arsenal just once in pitching into the eighth inning. The lone exception within his 104 pitches was a 79-mph slider that he threw to Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer with one out in the fourth.

Why would Masterson throw just one offspeed offering?

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"Well, you know, we thought we'd probably use it more," Masterson said with a laugh. "That one would hopefully kind of put it in the back of the head like, 'Oh, later on in the innings, is he going to throw one here? Is he not?'"

Masterson said that the end result was simply a case of "don't change what's working." The Twins scattered four singles against the right-hander and only had one baserunner advance as far as second in his 7 2/3 innings. Masterson induced 15 outs via ground balls, created two flyouts and struck out six.

In all, Masterson fired 103 fastballs, though that included both four-seamers (54) and two-seam sinkers (49). Along the way, Masterson varied his pitch velocity with the heaters, too. He ranged anywhere from 91-97 mph with his four-seam fastball and hit between 90-98 mph with his sinker.

"I was able to mix and match," Masterson said. "There's good movement on the sinker. Even within the fastballs, there was a mix, a range of velocities that also helped kind of keep them off-balance. And being able to control the inner and outer half, that's what kind of made it effective.

"It was almost like having two or three different pitches just within a fastball."

That is what enabled Masterson to throw 99 percent of his pitches for fastballs. For the season, the righty has averaged 81.8-percent fastballs and 17.3-percent sliders, according to fangraphs.com. Three seasons ago, those figures stood at 66.7 percent and 30.2 percent, respectively.

"I love the heat, man," Masterson said.

The pitcher was referring to the temperature at the ballpark, but he might as well have been talking about his repertoire.

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