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June 25, 2011

Showalter says that plan remains for Matusz to stay in big leagues

The post-game conversation after the Orioles’ 10-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds tonight was predictably focused on one topic: the struggles of left-handed pitcher Brian Matusz.

Matusz allowed six earned runs on nine hits, including three homers, and one walk over 4 2/3 innings tonight, leaving his ERA after five starts to 6.85.

“I took a lot from this outing,” Matusz said. “Went out there with a game plan and made some good pitches. But I let their best guy in their lineup hurt me today. I can’t let that happen. My stuff has gotten better, a lot better. I had a good feel for the changeup today. I made some nice pitches, sometimes when I needed it. But I‘ll need to bear down better with their tough hitters.”

The hitter that Matusz was referring to was the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, Joey Votto, who went 3-for-3 with five RBIs in three at-bats against Matusz, connecting for a three-run homer in the third and a two-run shot in the fifth.

Matusz isn’t the first person to be victimized by Votto, but let’s be honest here: Matusz’s problems go well beyond those two at-bats tonight.

Over his last three starts, Matusz has allowed 14 earned runs on 20 hits, including four homers, and eight walks over 11 1/3 innings, good for a 15.88 ERA. He's given up seven home runs in his last 13 1/3 innings.

Out of his last five homers surrendered, four of them have come on fastballs clocked at 88 miles per hour or lower on the stadium radar gun.

“Well the velocity obviously isn’t there,” Matusz said. “Being in my fifth start, I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress. But you just got to continue working and get a lot better. Not being able to pitch with 93, 94 like I have in the past, you got to be able to have a better plan and execute pitches better especially with their big hitters.”

Asked what has caused the drop in velocity, Matusz said, “It’s a matter of building arm strength.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was pretty hard on Matusz after one bad start earlier this season, but he defended him tonight, and said that the plan remains for him to make his next start.

““This is a 24, 25 year old young man that has had some success in just about everything he’s done pitching and finished up pretty good last year and he’s had a lot of challenges health-wise this year for the first time in his career,” Showalter said. “So, I try to keep that in mind. Obviously, it affects you physically, but sometimes mentally. He’s strong enough, he’ll fight through it and be better as a result of it.”

Pressed on whether Matusz will make his next start, Showalter said, “I don’t think that’s in the best interest to have the manager sitting in here an hour or so after his outing, throwing it out there, so I’m not going there. But I think we all know. There are different stages of a season, where you’re equipped to handle certain things, and I think Brian’s, at this point, best served… We’ll see what each day brings and what the options are, but last thing I want to do is start weighing on that when I’m sure Brian’s a little down about the outing tonight.”

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 11:10 PM | | Comments (11)
        

Comments

In the online picture (where Matusz is touching the bill of his cap), he really looks skinny. I'm not saying compared to last yr because, quite frankly, i don't remember noticing his physique last yr.

His forearms & his upper body look really skinny.

I was at the game on Friday and Saturday, so it was sad to see the O's not be able to feed off the big crowd on Saturday. I am not letting Brian off the hook, but the offense left runner after runner in scoring position. They have to find a way to move the runner over to avoid the DP and when you have a guy on 2nd with less than two outs against a pitcher who's allowing hitters to hit close to . 285 off him, you have to score!

Jeff,

Brian has always been a thin guy, but he looks like he lost 10-15 pounds. Has he lost weight? Jeff, I think Brian needs to go to AAA and rebuild his confidence. Hopefully he can work on his pitches. I know JJ has been lights out, but why not see if he can start?

Jeff, it seems to me the above is about as a complete disconnect from reality as you have ever been able to demonstrate. Showalter refused to address the issue with Matusz because he was "sure Brian's a little down about the outing" when in fact Matusz appeared to be saying he was simply not in game shape but because he was given the start he needed to be able to do the job anyway.

Buck needs to show us he's smarter than he's shown so far at managing Matusz because now he's looking like a fool.

To me the options are you either shut down Matusz until he is physically capable of building arm strength or if he is ready to get him on an extended training to build up arm strength somewhere other than Baltimore.

I don't care which option is exercised, but one of them needs to be chosen regardless of Brian's feelings.

Jeff,

After 4 years of "Growing the Arms" Macphail has contributed to just one "Arm" in the starting rotation, and he is getting shelled and will be shipped to Norfolk shortly. {Matusz}

After 4 years of 'Buying the Bats" Macphail has contributed to just one consistent and productive bat in the starting lineup who has any trade value.{Hardy}

After 4 years of Macphail the Orioles farm system may be worse off than when he got here, and there is no depth that can help the major league club.

After 4 years of Macpail the Orioles still hardly have any full time boots on the ground of their own in Latin America.

After 4 years of Macphail the Orioles are still in last place, and if you examine the upcoming schedule, they are about to drill deeper.

After 4 years of Macphail there is still no apparent sense of organizational urgency to produce a winning team.

How long can this go on and do you see a tipping point later this season for Andy to be fired? For the sake of the fans and the franchise, I sure hope so.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: No, I don't think he'll be fired before the end of the year, but as I've said many times before, I don't think he'll be back next year in his current capacity.

2 pitchers heading south fast for the O's Matusz and Bergesen. What's going on here? I guess our rebuild is still a few years away !

The Orioles are systemically pathetic and how Andy McPhail keeps his job is remarkable.

JEFF what can you say Matusz stunk tonite.. I agree with buck I think he will say what he thinks and knows and he certainly knows baseball and matusz better than I do..His location was way off last night and just one or two oitches before vottos first homer I thought he missed a hanger I expected was gone. But I wondered if matusz stuff and concentration was affected by his attempt to throw harder to satisfy everyone.. Certainly we know several pitchers whose movement and command leave when they throw harder.. I think Matusz and the orioles have to accept the velocity drop for now in favor of quality,,perhaps start some excersises that will build up his arm strength naturally and keep him on them all winter..

Before the Orioles drafted Matusz a number of baseball insiders not connected with the Orioles stated that they were concerned about Matusz's unorthodox pitching delivery. These experts were questioning how long Matusz would be successful on the Major League level. Unfortunately for the Orioles the answer might be his best success is in the past.

Matusz - may become an example of another unsuccessful Oriole draft selection.

The team needs continuity. I'm sure Macphail will return for 3 more years which would benefit the entire organization way more than another change.
Things are really looking up for this team in spite of all the shortsightedness of fickle fans. The last couple drafts are going to pan out and Macphail has shown a great ability when making trades

"...but as I've said many times before, I don't think he'll be back next year in his current capacity."

Wow, didn't realize that was your view. I think MacPhail's tenure has about run its course or perhaps more like running-in-place.
--------------------------------------
Starlin Castro, as good a young player as i can recall in quite awhile, was signed on Oct 25, 2006 by the Cubs as an amateur FA from the Dominican Republic.

MacPhail was the president/CEO of the Cubs until Oct. 1, 2006. I have to assume that he had something to do with the scouting & signing of Castro.

IF there was more time betw his tenure & Castro's signing, i was then going to ask, "If MacPhail was still with the Cubs, would they have scouted & signed Castro ?" The O's sure haven't showed that kind of international initiative under MacPhail.

So can one conclude that the O's lack of initiative on the international front to be more Peter Angelos restraint than MacPhail's ???

To quote John McEnroe "you can not be serious!!"

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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