After rough start, Masset finding peak form

After rough start, Masset finding peak form

After rough start, Masset finding peak form
CINCINNATI -- History seems to be repeating itself for right-hander Nick Masset, and that would be a good situation for the Reds.

Masset endured an extremely bumpy first month to this season but has found a groove of late. Since allowing four runs in one inning on May 1 against the Marlins, the setup man entered Saturday with seven consecutive scoreless appearances with one walk and 13 strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings.

In the season's first month, Masset had a stretch where he accounted for three of the Reds' first four losses, gave up seven earned runs and 11 hits over four games. He had nine walks for the month. Things had smoothed out some until the May 1 game.

"I guess it's coincidental that I had a rough start last year and struggled this year," Masset said. "Sometimes, you get a little bit out of whack and you have to find yourself mechanically and physically. Easily, once your mechanics fall apart a little bit, you start to mentally get on yourself and apply a little more pressure."

Last season, Masset had an 11.32 ERA after his first 12 appearances before he finished with a 3.40 ERA over a career-high 82 appearances. Entering Saturday, he has a 4.18 ERA over 20 appearances and his 23 2/3 innings were tied for the Major League lead among relievers.

"Once you start putting a few games together and feel good, you don't have to think out there and ... all you have to worry about is focusing on hitters, pitching to their weaknesses and to your strengths," Masset said. "That's what's going on right now. I can command three of my pitches to where I want to. It's helping me out."

In Friday's 6-5 win over the Cardinals that lasted 10 innings, Masset pitched two scoreless frames over the eighth and ninth and was regularly touching 95-96 mph on the radar gun. At one point, he struck out four batters in a row.

"When you're feeling good, you want to pitch," Masset said. "Our job is to keep the team in the game. I am just trying to throw zeroes. If I get ahead of hitters, I'll take strikeouts. It's a plus for me. The main thing is zeroes on the board."