Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Happened to Matusz?

We're all aware of the precipitous fall of Brian Matusz from potential savior to bullpen fodder for the AL East.  While many were disheartened, there's reason to believe the trend we saw last year is temporary.  Let's take a look at some of the facts from last year:

Matusz's Stats for 2011 and his career:
There are a few points to make about his stat line from last year.  The first is that his Line Drive rate (LD% from 'Batted Ball') was not as high as you would expect from someone with a 10.69 ERA.  What is of note in 'Batted Ball' that some of his groundballs have become flyballs.  Why did that hurt him so much?  Because an absurd 20% of the flyballs he gave up went for home runs (HR/FB%).

Another figure to mention?  Under 'Advanced' you can see that the BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) against Matusz was .382, again absurdly high.  Matusz's xBABIP or expected BABIP was a much more modest .301.  This discrepancy suggests that Matusz was more unlucky than bad last year.

What does this mean?

So is Matusz just unlucky?  Will he miraculously bounce back next year?  Well, that question is a little tougher.  Matusz's velocity has dipped from 91.5 MPH his rookie year to just 88.5 last year.  While 3 MPH doesn't seem like much, it has an impact on his ability to set up and use his offspeed offerings.  Matusz has also lost some of the horizontal movement on his fastball and change up, leading to straighter and more htittable pitches.  At the same time, his release point and location seem somewhat consistent, though his control was worse last year, as exhibited by his career high 4.35 BB/9.

Can he get it together?  A full offseason to fully recover from the myriad of injuries he sustained last year will help.  An offseason to work on his strength and conditioning will also help.  If Matusz finds those few MPH he lost on his fastball he could return to the guy we all saw the second half of 2010.  We'll find out in Spring Training, and it will likely determine his fate for the season.  I think he can regain his prior form, but it's going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.  Matusz has shown the desire to improve and develop, and I hope he continues to commit himself to that so last year will be seen as an aberration.


  1. oh please, you mean he was rushed up and over used, what do you expect. the orioles suck the franchise is a joke, he seemed to be over hyped in the first place...

  2. I'm not sure I agree with the idea that he was over-hyped in the first place. His minor league numbers were exceptional and he showed the ability to do well in the majors last year with a 2.18 ERA for Aug - Oct. Granted that's a small sample size but it shows that he has talent.