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Matusz’s Starting Rotation Spot in Jeopardy for 2012

Posted By Alex Van Rees On Sep 26 2011 @ 11:11 am In Baltimore Orioles | 34 Comments

Following a very impressive end to the 2010 season, Brian Matusz has failed to live up to the Orioles expectations this season.  He sports the highest ERA in the majors at 10.69, by over three runs per game, and will finish the year with a 1-9 record.

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Brian Matusz was born on February 11th, 1987 in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Matusz tossed his final game of the year against Detroit and struggled mightily throughout.  He lasted only five innings, yielding six earned runs including two HR to the playoff-bound Tigers.

Not only is his ERA inflated and record horrendous, Matusz didn’t record a single quality outing this season.  A quality outing consists of at least 6 IP and three earned runs or fewer. Not once all season…

If the cornerstone of the Orioles’ future starting staff doesn’t figure out his mechanics to pitch effectively again over the off-season,there won’t be a spot for him in the starting rotation come opening day 2012.

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The Orioles drafted Matusz fourth overall in the 2008 MLB draft.

Matusz finished his first full year in the majors (2010) with a 10-12 record and a respectable 4.30 ERA.  The real story was his last two months of the season.  He tossed nine quality outings in just ten starts and his ERA dropped almost a full run from 5.26 to 4.30.

Throughout August and September/October, Matusz tossed 61 innings in those ten starts (6.1 innings per outing) and he allowed only 15 earned runs, which equates to a 2.21 ERA.

Matusz allowed 46 base hits, surrendering only five HR and never more than one in a single start.  He compiled 51 strikeouts and just 16 walks, which equates to a 3.2 strike out to walk ratio.  So, for every walk on average, he struck out 3.2 batters.

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Entering the 2010 season, Baseball America ranked him as the 5th best starting pitcher prospect.

So, entering Spring Training 2011, hopes and expectations soared for the possible future ace, but quickly dropped off.  Matusz suffered an intercostal strain in his left shoulder during his last spring outing and missed April and May.

Although he tossed 11 innings over his first two outings and allowed only three earned runs total, the rest of the season proved to be a continuous struggle.  He picked up his only win in his second game pitching 5.1 innings and allowing two earned against the Athletics.

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After his first 6 starts this season, he was demoted to Triple-A after he was 1-4 with a 7.00 ERA.

Since that win, Matusz did not allow less than four earned runs in a single start.  He gave up five or more runs in his last seven outings and surrendered six or more earned runs on five different occasions.

Not only was Matusz opening the scoring floodgates for opposing offenses, but he failed to pitch deep in his outings.  He never lasted seven innings and only one time did he make it to see the 7th inning.  In 12 outings, he averaged only about four innings per start (49.2 innings total), while he allowed 59 earned runs (4.92 per start).

One of the major concerns this season for Matusz (besides his pre-humidor Coors Field-like ERA) has been the number of HR served up.  Opponents jolted 18 bombs off of Matusz, for an average of 1.5 home runs per start.

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In 9 starts with the Norfolk Tides, he went 2-3 with a 3.46 ERA.

There was only one outing in which he didn’t yield a home run, and that was his first of the season!  On two occasions, Matusz gave up three HR in a single game and in almost half of his starts (five), he served up at least two.  He’s allowed 13 more HR in 2011 than his last two months of 2010 (one more start in 2011).

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Matusz tossed less than two innings in three different starts this season.

In addition to the longball, Matusz’s  strike out to walk ratio dropped significantly.  He rang up only 13 fewer opponents while he issued the same number of free passes over the final two months of last year.  His strike out to walk ratio this season is 2.4.

Speculation all season has been that he returned too early from the disabled list.  Nonetheless, if Matusz wants any shot of making the Orioles rotation next April, he has a great amount of work to do this winter.

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