Over the past few years, Buck Showalter has become pretty consistent when it comes to his valuations of starting pitchers during his postgame news conferences.
If a pitcher throws well, Showalter will note it – but he’ll also pick out a negative or heap praise on someone else. He’s just not going to gush over a performance, especially one in spring training.
Brian Matusz’s outing Wednesday night in the Orioles’ 9-4 win over the Minnesota Twins was gushable – he allowed no hits, one walk and struck out seven batters in four innings.
Here’s Showalter: “I thought he and Tommy [Hunter] threw the ball well. Good. 60 pitches, something around there. Four innings tonight. Brian threw the ball well.”
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(Hunter, by the way, threw two scoreless innings and struck out three).
Matusz is fighting for the fifth rotation spot, though the sense is that he’ll end up in the bullpen because he had so much success there last year. In his career, Matusz has a 5.51 ERA in 68 starts and a 1.35 ERA in 18 relief appearances.
So are Matusz’s relief abilities hampering his chance for the rotation?
“You could ask the same question of Tommy, of a lot of guys. They’re still in the mix,” Showalter said. “We have plenty of time and we’ll continue to look at all of our options. Brian has had success as a starter, too. He just didn’t have as much as he’s capable of last year. We feel like he is capable of doing both.”
Showalter was asked about how excited Matusz was to make his first start of the spring. Buck, again, made it about the team – at least initially.
“They're all excited to get an opportunity to start. I'm sure Mr. Gausman [will be] tomorrow. Bundy was. I hope they are,” Showalter said. “I glanced at Brian a couple of times before the game. You can tell he was pretty serious about what was getting ready to happen.”