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Orioles try disappointing Brian Matusz in bullpen

Aug 14, 2012, 5:30 PM EDT

Brian Matusz Getty Images

Brian Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, is headed to the bullpen at Triple-A Norfolk as the Orioles try to figure out whether he might be able to help them next month.

Expected to be one of the Orioles’ best starters in 2011, Matusz instead turned in the highest ERA ever for a pitcher with at least 40 innings pitched, finishing 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA in 12 starts. He appeared much improved this spring and won a rotation spot, but the success didn’t last; he lost his last five starts and was sent down at the beginning of July with a 5-10 record and a 5.42 ERA.

Matusz’s Triple-A outings have been a mixed bag. He pitched a shutout in his first start on July 6, but he had allowed 18 earned runs in 32 innings since.

It was righties that killed Matusz in the majors this year, so the Orioles think he could have success in a short role out of the pen. Lefties hit just .174 with two homers in 86 at-bats against him this season, whereas righties were at .347 with 12 homers in 265 at-bats.

That trend hasn’t carried over in the minors, though. Since arriving at Norfolk, Matusz has given up a .269 average to lefties and a .218 average to righties.

With the Orioles still in contention in the AL East, the move makes sense on at least a short-term basis to see if Matusz can provide some value in September. It shouldn’t be a permanent switch, though; regardless of how September goes, Matusz needs to be put back into the mix for the rotation next spring.

  1. WhyDoIActuallyCare - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    “It shouldn’t be a permanent switch, though; regardless of how September goes, Matusz needs to be put back into the mix for the rotation next spring.”

    Why? He has never been able to replicate the success he had in 2009. If he doesn’t make it in the bullpen, I don’t see why anyone would give him a serious chance anymore.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 14, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      Because he’s 25 and just two years removed from looking like one of the AL’s most promising young lefties.

      As rough as things have been since, he still has a 7.1 K/9 IP for his career, and he’s toiled in one of the two toughest situations for pitchers in baseball (I’d put Baltimore right behind Colorado because of the difficulty of the AL East + Camden Yards).

  2. cheers4ablumpkin - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Just release him or trade him

  3. cheers4ablumpkin - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Just get rid of him

  4. randomdigits - Aug 14, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    This is all about not leaving any bullets in the minors that could help the big club in the (unlikely to succeed) push for the playoffs.

  5. rarson - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Matusz has great stuff, I just think he gets inside his own head. He’s certainly had more than just one great game, the problem is that he can’t consistently do it.

    • kkolchak - Aug 14, 2012 at 7:26 PM

      Know who else had “great stuff?’ Daniel Cabrera.

      • rarson - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:42 AM

        Well I’m not saying he’s destined to be a great pitcher or anything, just that he’s shown flashes of brilliance. Seems to be a common problem with Oriole starters (Arrieta).

  6. sawxalicious - Aug 14, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    The headline sounds like they sent him out to the bullpen to be disappointed….like there’s a big present with his name on on it, containing a pink slip.

    • sneschalmers - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:37 PM

      Haha I was thinking the same thing. Basically, use ‘disappointing’ as a verb in the headline for instant hilarity.

  7. bmorethansteel - Aug 14, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    he’s 25 so it’d be stupid to just release him. You can’t trade him because he has no value right now unless he were to be part of a package deal which they tried when they wanted Headley and failed.

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