The Baltimore Sun's Toy Department has a new post up this morning voicing concern over rookie pitcher Brian Matusz:
The young lefty looks confused out on the mound, never more so than in the first inning of the Orioles 6-1 loss to the Oakland A's Wednesday.
He gave up four runs in that inning -- including Adam Rosales' three-run homer -- marking the second straight time he's been roughed up in the first inning.
And he's starting to take on that bewildered look that Brad Bergesen wore a few weeks ago when nothing he did was working....
"I am just in a bad groove," Matusz told reporters after the game.
The truth is, there are a lot of players in that clubhouse in a bad groove right now.
But the Orioles can't afford to have Matusz stuck in that groove for too long.
Not if he's one of their building blocks for the future.
Which is fine and all but the truth is that Brian Matusz is pitching pretty well, his mainstream stats (2-5, 5.76 ERA) notwithstanding.
His FIP is fine (3.80 and an improvement over his 4.08 FIP form last year) and his xFIP is 4.63. These numbers aren't stellar but they are better than his ERA suggests.
Other peripherals: 7.41 K/9, 3.29 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9; those are all respectable, especially for a rookie. The 1.63 WHIP is not good...but his BABIP stands at .370. There's no way that doesn't come down. His LD% of 21.2% does not support that BABIP and even though he has been a fly ball pitcher thus far his 32.8% ground ball rate is slightly better than last year.
Matusz's defense isn't doing him (or the other pitchers) any favors either. Ty Wigginton, for all his success at the plate, has been the second worst second baseman in the league in terms of UZR. Miguel Tejada is below average. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones are not living up to their defensive reps and whoever the Orioles stick in left turns into a butcher with the glove. Only Cesar Izturis is pulling his weight in the field.
Are there things Matusz can work on? Sure. Is he as bad as his ERA suggests? Absolutely not.
I'm not going to hit the panic button 18 starts into his career.
And regardless of what The Toy Department might think, the Orioles can definitely afford "bad groove" Matusz. He won't get any better if you don't let him pitch.
Photo used under Creative Commons via Keith Allison.