Now, before anyone freaks out. Yes, I’m aware it is Spring Training. However, four hit-less innings are four hit-less innings no matter the importance of the game at the major league level. Baltimore Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz made his second start and fourth appearance in Spring Training on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins.
Matusz was on fire from the sound of “play ball.” To start the game, he struck out six of the first seven batters. As the lefty attempts to capture that fifth starter spot, this latest appearance should do wonders for his chances.
Matusz is now holding opposing batters to a measly .178 batting average through ten innings in Spring Training. With those seven strikeouts in Wednesday’s game, he now has eleven this Spring.
Last season was a tumultuous one for the southpaw as he was sent down to the minors at the beginning of July after going 5-10 to start the season. Matusz would spend the rest of July and the majority of August appearing in ten games at AAA Norfolk. He was then called back up and moved into a bullpen role for the remainder of the season.
As a reliever, he posted a 1.35 ERA over 13.1 innings in 18 games to finish the regular season. Manager Buck Showalter showed confidence in Matusz by utilizing him in key situations in every game of the Orioles playoff run. He accumulated 4.2 innings over those six games and maintained a modest 1.92 ERA.
There are numerous candidates vying for that fifth spot, including Jair Jurrjens, Steve Johnson and Jake Arrieta. After this most recent performance, the 26-year-old Matusz should be on that long list of potential fifth starters.