Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Early Returns: Matusz Decision a Good One

Earlier today, Falco proposed that I put together a commentary on whether I thought that the Matusz decision was a good one based on what I saw from the start this evening. To that I responded, "Well, one start is hardly a reasonable sampling size to make a judgement. To brand the decision a good or bad one after one start would be unreasonable and to be honest very shortsighted." But we are a sports blog, so isn't that what we're here for?

In that spirit, I really do believe that tonight's start validates the front office's decision to promote the young left hander to the big leagues. Not only because he allowed only one run in his five innings and was rewarded the win; it was about how he got through the Detroit lineup to get to that point. The Tigers hitters were doing Matusz very few favors, fouling off some excellent pitches and turning sharply on most of the mistakes. Matusz got the game going with a 1-2-3 first inning, but after that was walking a tightrope, culminating in his back-to-back strikeouts to end the fifth inning with runners on second and third with a 2-run lead. Those two batters were his last of the evening, as he had ratcheted his pitch count up to 99.

So why am I so convinced after Matusz was only barely able to get through five innings? Because he got out of jams by pitching, not just throwing. Other O's prospects who were rushed too soon start to overthrow when in a jam, relying on pure 'stuff' rather than pitching with poise. Instead, Matusz incorporated all of his pitches and continued going after hitters even after getting hit around. His fastball-changeup combination was fantastic, and while his breaking pitches weren't excellent he still mixed them in enough to keep the hitters off balance in key situations. This year we're hearing more and more about how a major league player is supposed to 'look', and Brian Matusz really seems to have it. Yes, he was a bit amped up to be sure, but he was not shaky in the slightest on the mound. He kept an even demeanor despite being locked in a tight ballgame with a small strike zone. That poise is not common for a player his age, and that's why it's looking like a good decision to bring him up.

Brian Matusz seems ready to face major league hitting. Yes, it's only one start, but he has the makings to just keep getting better with more experience under his belt. Brian Matusz has four plus pitches, and when he and Wieters have more time to get a rapport those will be utilized more effectively than they were at times tonight. I expect Matusz to remain in the rotation even when Bergesen comes back from the disabled list.

The three of us here at Around the Harbor were all against this move-- sometimes we don't mind being wrong.

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