Matusz: Why not?
Though the Orioles are understandably hesitant to rush top prospect Brian Matusz to the big leagues, there are plenty of compelling reasons why they are having a "vigorous debate" about calling him up to make at least a few August starts.
Most importantly, there is no downside from a service time standpoint, unless the club was planning on holding him back next year past the "Longoria deadline" to capture a seventh year, and teams generally do not do that with pitchers. Matusz (right) is on the 40-man major league roster, so he already has used his option for this year. He can come up and down without the club incurring any option penalty. The service time issue also is largely moot, because no matter how much time he spends up here this year, he's still under reserve for another six years.
There's also some value in taking some advantage of the loss of Brad Bergesen to get an early look at Matusz at the major league level, because the only other opportunity would come when rosters expand in September, at a time when the team should be rightfully concerned about him pitching too many innings in his first full pro season.
Matusz came up to Bowie and has been almost unhittable in his seven starts at Double-A. Scouts rave about him and most feel that he can hold his own at the major league level right now. He's got the right makeup and the right pitch repertoire to be competitive at any level, though he'd obviously face some growing pains against major league hitters.
The Orioles obviously are at least considering him -- along with Jake Arrieta and Troy Patton -- as the fill-in starter in Detroit next week. If Andy MacPhail takes that leap, which he wouldn't rule out in a couple of interviews on Friday, it would be a major change in the organizational timetable. But MacPhail admitted that circumstances sometimes force an unexpected decision.
Jeez, for a last-place team, the Orioles never seem to be short on intrigue.
Sun photo by Doug Kapustin