Brian Matusz will be making his third career start this evening for Baltimore. Coming off an outing in which he allowed three home runs and couldn’t pitch out of the third inning, he’ll be facing one of the hottest hitting teams in baseball, the Angels.
Matusz, a left hander, was the fourth overall selection in the 2008 amateur draft. Coming out of the University of San Diego, he was considered a “safe” pick, with less upside than some other early draftees. Matusz signed late, and didn’t make his first professional appearance until 2009. He then reached the major leagues after just 19 minor league starts. He’s young, and he looks younger, staring at home plate from underneath his flat-brimmed O’s hat.
Matusz shot through the Orioles system with a low to mid 90s fastball that gets some classic lefthander’s tailing action. In his two major league starts, his fastball has consistently flown between 91-93 MPH, touching 94 a few times, and 89-90 MPH a couple times while pitching out of the stretch. He attempts to work the corners with this pitch, including inside to right handed hitters.
Matusz seems to use his change-up as his second pitch. It travels with the same movement of his fastball, just 10 MPH slower. He has decent control of the change-up, meaning he can throw it for strikes. However, he hasn’t shown the command needed to hit the corners consistently, leaving the pitch over the heart of the plate too often.
Matusz’ third and fourth pitches are his slider and curveball. The slider looks like a plus strikeout pitch. He throws it in the low-80s consistently, but can bust it inside on right handers at 84 MPH when going for the swing and miss. It gets good, sharp break and has missed a bat or two already. Brian has used his curveball as a change of pace pitch.
[ fastball (89-94), change-up (80-84), slider (79-84), curve (76-77) ]
Matusz uses his fastball and change-up early in his outings. After feeling comfortable with this combination, he begins to break out his slider and curve. In his first appearance, when he pitched well, he used his change-up early in the count, and seemed to have a better plan on the mound. In his second outing, he was all about his fastball, which was fine until he pitched himself into some very predictable counts.
Matusz has shown a very poor pickoff move, and hasn’t been tested at fielding his position.
I haven’t seen enough of Matusz to have a feel for what will happen tonight. If he has command of his stuff, he could be effective. However, with the way the Angels are swinging the bats this season, it could get ugly early no matter how he’s pitching.
Sven Jenkins is the creator of 60ft6in.com and does freelance work for STATS, LLC.