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Bullpen Experience a Plus for Brian Matusz; Helps Chances at Starting in 2014

December 31st, 2013 at 10:21 AM
By Josh Michael

It is no secret that the Baltimore Orioles desperately need a boost to the starting rotation in 2014, and some believe that it may come from within in the likes of Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez or Zach Britton, but we are here to tell you that Brian Matusz could be the front runner for the fifth spot in the rotation heading into 2014.

'Brian Matusz' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license:

We can already hear some of you now, but wait, he is great in the bullpen and has had very little success in the past as a starter, why would you put him back in the rotation?

First off, we will agree with those two statements. He has been great in the bullpen for the Orioles and his past shows quite a bit of struggle when he was a starting pitcher, but hear us out.

We are not saying he is going to be the ace Baltimore desperately needs, very very little chance of that, but we are saying that he should be considered the front runner for garnering the fifth spot in the rotation, barring a free agent signing or trade.

Matusz became a reliever roughly half way through the 2012 season and only pitched in relief during 2013 and his numbers are much better compared to those when he starts a game. As a reliever, Matusz has posted a career ERA of 3.08 as opposed to his 5.51 ERA as a starter, pretty glaring difference there.

Of course, in the bullpen, Matusz has mostly been used as a lefty specialist coming into the game to get tough left handers out, that's you David Ortiz, but there if there is one thing that Matusz has garnered in the bullpen that can help him try to get back into the rotation, it is confidence. As one of our readers put it, "If you can't gain confidence from absolutely owning Ortiz, then you will never gain it," and that is certainly true.

Matusz has been phenomenal out of the bullpen and there is no question that he has gained confidence in his ability to get Major League hitters out. He set career low's in ERA (3.53) and WHIP (1.157) in 2013 and again we are aware that he was put into a lot of situations that favor him, more specifically against left handed hitters, but the number's are the numbers.

The are two important facts here regarding why he should be the front runner for the fifth spot in the rotation. First, he is a low risk option in that if he does start the season in the rotation and he struggles, he can be sent back to the bullpen in his former role and has dealt with that move before, so there should be little concern that he can do it again.

'Brian Matusz' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license:

Secondly, and perhaps the most important, who among the players vying for the spot are better options? Many feel Gausman should get the nod, but keep in mind that if you let him begin the season in the rotation and the Orioles elect to send him down to the minors again, they could be completely shattering his confidence. Steve Johnson and Britton are also candidates, but Johnson has had some injury concerns and Britton has struggled more than Matusz in the starter's role.

One thing hurting Matusz's chances is the suspension to Troy Patton, which takes a left handed arm out of the bullpen, and Baltimore may feel that they need Matusz in the pen.

Again, we are not stating that the Orioles should not be trying to acquire a starting pitcher and that Matusz is the answer, we are in no way saying that. What we are saying is that among the current candidates on the roster, Matusz should be considered the front runner.


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Tags: Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Brian Matusz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Kevin Gausman, MLB, Steve Johnson, Zach Britton

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