With all the questions surrounding the Orioles coming into 2011, there is one thing that O’s fans know they should be able to pretty reliably count on: 24-year old Brian Matusz will continue his progression into a solid top-of-the-rotation starter.
Matusz was lights out down the stretch in 2010, going 7-1 from August through October, with an ERA of 2.43 in August and 1.89 in September. After laboring through the early part of the season, it looked like Matusz was quickly becoming what we all hope he can be.
In what was supposed to be his second-to-last tuneup for 2011 though, the Orioles’ young lefty struggled mightily against the Minnesota Twins. He was scheduled to pitch a full five innings, but went just an inning and a third.
I’m sure the Orioles won’t publicly fret too much about young left-hander Brian Matusz, but I’d certainly be concerned after what I witnessed tonight.
Matusz managed to get just four outs, getting knocked out of the game on Joe Mauer’s two-run single off the base off the wall. He surrendered four earned runs on five hits and three walks, and it could have been worse, but Alberto Castillo came in and got Justin Morneau to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Matusz faced 12 batters and eight of them reached base and five of them went to a full count. He threw 56 total pitches, 31 for strikes.
This was supposed to be his second to last start of the spring and Matusz was more than likely going to get the ball in the second game of the season. But he’s yet to throw five innings in a game this spring.
I still have every confidence in Brian Matusz. However, with all the things we O’s fans have to fret about as we hope against hope for our team to end their 13-year run of awful baseball – the health of Brian Roberts and Derrek Lee, Matt Wieters’ disappointing bat, Mark Reynolds striking out half the time, the rest of the young pitchers continuing to develop, and of course the fact that it’s still the American League East – it would be nice if Matusz was having the type of spring that say, Zach Britton is.