BALTIMORE (AP) — Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz doesn’t have the same velocity on his fastball that he did last year, so he’s going to have to make an adjustment if he wants to be an effective pitcher.
Only time will tell whether the change is temporary or long-term.
As a rookie last season, Matusz went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA over his final six starts.
Baltimore hoped he would continue that pace this year, but he began the season on the disabled list with a rib injury and has struggled since returning on June 1. He gave up six runs in 4 2-3 innings Saturday night against Cincinnati and is 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA in five starts this season.
Upon his return, Matusz has encountered difficulty uncorking a fastball at 90 mph. The trend continued against the Reds, when he gave up three home runs and nine hits.
“Well, the velocity obviously isn’t there,” Matusz said.
That shortcoming cannot be attributed entirely to the injury that kept him sidelined for two months, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Sunday.
“I think you’ve got to proceed like it’s not just five starts,” Showalter said. “He pitched in the spring and pitched in
rehab starts, so it’s a pretty large sampling.”
Maybe Matusz, 24, will gather arm strength as the season progresses. Then again, maybe not.
“From a coaching standpoint you’ve got to proceed with the idea of, what are you going to do if that doesn’t jump all the way back initially? What’s the best way to create a way for him to have success up here without it for right now?” Showalter said.
The plan is for Matusz to focus on accuracy with the fastball rely on his other pitches to keep batters guessing.
“It’s not always about velocity,” Showalter said. “He’s a guy that has multiple pitches. Him being left-handed, when he’s right it’s a four-pitch mix. So, he’s got to be able to use those pitches. He’s had a couple of fairly good outings when he had
command of that and was able to locate his fastball. It wasn’t the case (Saturday) night.”
Matusz understands his situation, and will proceed accordingly.
“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,” he said.
There’s a chance he might benefit from the experience.
“In some ways it may be a positive in the early stage of his career, if you’re searching for a silver lining,” Showalter said.
“The good thing is he’s got good secondary pitches. If he commands them, he should be OK.”
Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, isn’t used to struggling. But he plans to make the best of it.
“You learn so much more from failures than you do from having success,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting better every
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)