Veteran pitcher Justin Masterson agreed to a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported. Adam Berry of later confirmed the news.  

Masterson spent last season with the Boston Red Sox, posting a 4-2 record with a 5.61 ERA as both a starter and reliever.

In his previous seven years, Masterson was a full-time starter who struggled to be a productive arm in the lower parts of rotations.

His ERA was at least 4.50 or higher in seven of his eight years in the league, including a 2014 that saw him post a 5.88 mark.

Masterson did have a flash-in-the-pan All-Star season in 2013 with the Cleveland Indians in which he went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and three shutouts, which led the league. 

If he has a set spot in a rotation, Masterson is capable of eating some innings as a best-case scenario, which is valuable in fourth or fifth starters. The Pirates could be looking for some help there too, especially after the Detroit Tigers hammered starter Juan Nicasio on Tuesday. 

Nicasio threw 94 pitches to get through three innings, allowing four runs and five walks. Of the 19 batters he faced, 11 reached base. 

It’s just one start, though, so there’s always room for improvement. 

Given Masterson’s past in which he’s had problems keeping his ERA down, don’t expect Pittsburgh to rely too heavily on him if it does call him up to the big leagues, as the Pirates are in a National League Central that features dangerous offensive teams like the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs


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