Brian Matusz Debuts

Oriole fans should get happy. Their patience is going to be rewarded. The overhaul of the Baltimore pitching rotation is almost complete. The team boasted a troika of top 100 pitching prospects going into the season, and one of those pitchers is 2008 first round pick Brian Matusz, who made a solid debut last night against the Detroit Tigers.

Outside of somewhat of a rocky 2nd inning in which he walked a pair of batters, Matusz did an exceptional job of mixing his pitches and locations, keeping Tiger hitters off-balance. He allowed six hits against five strikeouts and three walks to pick up his first big league W. Let’s take a quick look at his repertoire through Pitch F/X.

First, a movement graph:

matusz-movement

Matusz throws both four-seam and two-seam fastballs. The four-seamers are the straighter pitch; the two-seamer is the one with more sink and tail. Rather than breaking both pitches out I just lumped all his fastballs together, but you get the idea. His fastball topped at 94 MPH and averaged 92 MPH. He also mixed in a change-up, slider and a curve. All look to be about average, which –- surprise, surprise — accurately matches his scouting reports.

And now some flight paths, which you can click on to enlarge:

matusz-flight-paths

What really sets Matusz apart is that he has more command than your average call-up. Known for being the most polished pitcher in the 2008 draft, the southpaw posted a phenomenal strikeout to walk ratio of 141 to 22 his final season at San Diego. Between High-A and the Double-A level, he has nearly a K/BB rate of nearly 4:1 while getting plenty of whiffs –- 121 in 113 innings.

While Matusz doesn’t necessarily blow anyone away in terms of pure stuff, he’s just so freakishly polished for a 22-year old. It should only get better from here.



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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.


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Drew M
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Drew M
6 years 9 months ago

Great start for the kid. Baltimore is very excited to have such a young player turn in to a future ace.

Daniel
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6 years 9 months ago

He mixed his pitches really well, and that may have helped him get more strikes with his change-up than the movement on it would have implied. As a fan watching the game, I have to say that I was totally comfortable with him on the mound. Eve when he got into a couple of jams I just felt like he’d get out of them and it wasn’t a big deal. That might have a lot to do with his polish.

Once Bergesen comes off the DL, they O’s rotation may be Bergy, Matusz, Tillman, David Hernandez, and Jeremy Guthrie. That should be pretty exciting to watch.

JMB
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JMB
6 years 9 months ago

Erik,

Often you hear scouts/evaluators describe pitches as having “late break”, and I’m wondering if pitch f/x provides information on this (or if such a thing actually exists). For example, 2 pitchers throw similar 90mph fastballs that break 5 inches into a right-handed batter — is it possible that pitcher A’s fastball starts its break at 40′ and pitcher B’s begins at 45′? Does pitch f/x quantify this sort of thing? Or is it only a function of velocity (a pitcher who throws harder but has similar break has a sharper break since the ball needs to move more in less time)?

It seems to me that pitch break is a result of the spin imparted on the ball by the pitcher, which only diminishes after the ball is released. So on one hand I’m inclined to believe that there is no such thing as “late” or “early” break (only “more” or “less”), but on the other hand I can count what I know about physics with three fingers (thanks Newton) and what I understand about pitch f/x and pitching mechanics on the other two (they exist).

I apologize if I’m a mile or two behind the curve on this, but I’d appreciate your insight.

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