Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The downfall of Brian Matusz
Brian Matusz was given one last chance to end his disastrous 2011 season on a high note, despite the fact that pitching in Fenway Park is not the best environment to nurture success. Matusz's performance last night was to be expected from a pitcher whose struggles are well known by now, as he was unable to get out of the second inning, ending with a line of 1.2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB and 0 K.
His 2011 stats look even worse: 1-8 W-L, 10.68 ERA, 44.2 IP, 2.13 WHIP, 16 HR. I don't have the record books close by but I think I recall hearing that Matusz's 2011 season will go down as the worst pitching season of all time for a pitcher with at least 44 IP.
During spring training, Buck Showalter and Mark Connor made it a point to get the O's pitchers faster to the plate to cut down on steals. This caused a large ripple effect throughout the pitching staff this year, causing many pitchers (Matusz, Bergesen, Gregg and Gonzalez) to struggle because of it. Shortly after, Matusz injured his back and missed a majority of the season. A coincidence? We may never know. Just like we may never really know what caused Connor to quit, but I think it's pretty obvious that the Orioles pitchers were not happy with what they were being instructed to do and Connor didn't want any more of it.
Meanwhile, Matusz could be ruined for good. All because they wanted to get a fraction of a second faster to the plate.
What was it that Jim Palmer has always said? The best way to cut down on steals is keep runners off the bases. Words to live by. And Matusz was doing just that. In his last 11 starts of 2010, he finished with WHIP just under 1.00 to go with a 7-1 record and a 2.17 ERA. If anyone deserved immunity from Buck and Connor's change in delivery, it was Matusz.
Brian Matusz's downfall could very well be Buck's legacy in Baltimore...messing up Matusz to the point where he has to go sell insurance to make a living. The shame of it is many scouts said that Brian Matusz was major-league ready on the day he was drafted 4th overall in 2008. The Orioles could have drafted Matusz and not said a word to him and he'd probably be better off for it. I severely doubt that Buck is going to do anything substantial with the Orioles, regardless of the position he's in next year, whether it be GM, manager or some other fancy title. He could have very well destroyed one of the best pitching prospects the Orioles have had in a very long time.
I know Matusz will go back to the minors and work hard to get back to where he was in 2010. Throughout this nightmare of the season, Brian has owned everything this year, accepting blame and saying that he wasn't mentally prepared for this season, which, in my opinion, is a diplomatic way of saying, "I wasn't ready to come into spring training after finishing the 2010 season with a 7-1 record and have my wind-up fucked with".
But Matusz may never make it back. The damage may have been done, and it could very well be irreversible.
Thanks, Buck.I hope you're happy with yourself.