Justin Masterson is a candidate to fill Indians' closer role

J. Meric

Masterson is not stretched out enough to start, but could fill a vacancy at the back of the Indians' bullpen.

The Cleveland Indians are heading into the 2013 playoffs with no established closer following Chris Perez's removal from the role after he allowed six earned runs in his last two appearances.

More Indians coverage: Let's Go Tribe

It turns out Justin Masterson could be a candidate to finish games for the Indians, reports MLB.com.

Masterson is coming off of an oblique injury and is not stretched out enough to start games in the playoffs right away. He has made three scoreless appearances out of the bullpen in the past week. Inserting Masterson as a closer would allow the Indians to keep their ace starter in a key role.

"We went from losing our best pitcher to probably being the only team left in baseball that could have a guy finish the game potentially throwing three innings," Manager Terry Francona told reporters. "That's quite a weapon. We plan to use it."

If the Indians, who earned the top Wild Card spot in the American League, can win the play-in game against the Rays on Wednesday, Masterson could be stretched out in time to start games in the latter stages of the Divisional Series. Right now, however, starting games is not an option for him.

Masterson led the Indians with 195 strikeouts in 2013 while posting a 3.35 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 32 games, 29 of which were starts.

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