Its been a a very tough for of it for the Baltimroe Orioles franchise over the last decade and things looked no different the first half of 2010 as the team stumbled into last place once again in the AL East and manager Dave Tremblay got fired. Buck Showalter was brought in as his repalcement and the club was put on notice by the no-nonsense manager. Almost instantly the team played better baseball and finished the second half of the season with a winning record. Surely the collection of young talent that the team has collected after all of those last place finishes had soemthing to do with that and the biggest one was SP Brian Matusz who opened up many eyes with his very good performance during that time period. Matusz finished his first full season in the majors with a 10-12 record with a 4.30 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with 143 K. Those numbers look even more impressive if you go by what he did in the second half (3.63 ERA with 1.19 WHIP). The stats dont lie as the 24 year old lefty showed his pedigree during that time period and so many wonder just how good of a fantasy baseball starting pitcher he can be in 2011. Since we got plenty of time on our hands before the seasons starts, now is as good a time as any to find this out.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of Matusz’ stock, it should be known that he was a huge prospect heading into the draft and the Orioles grabbed him as the 4th overall pick in the entire draft class. Anytime a pitcher is taken that high, there is an instant expectation of top level play from the selection and no doubt there were very high hopes for Matusz after he was drafted. The scouting report on Matusz was that he had excellent control with four good pitches. That mixed repertoire would generate decent strikeouts and keep opposing players off the bases. All in all that has pretty much been the story of Matusz performances in his one and a half year stay in the majors with only a higher walk rate which you can excuse due to the fact almost all young starters struggle a bit with the control when they get promoted. Overall was up and down throughout the season in 2010 as far as strikeouts were concerned. He began the year with 8, 8, and 7 K’s through his first three starts but than didnt hit the 8-K mark again until July. By the end of the year though, Matusz once again piled up the strikeouts and finished the season with a 9-K outing. I think Matusz will see another spike in strikeouts this season as he further refines his good stuff and he could easily pass the 170-K mark which is on the higher end for a fantasy baseball starter. The walks also figure to drop from the all right considering his age 63 he threw last season. Hence the bottom line will be a lowering of his WHIP and ERA and so Matusz is already looking like a solid number 3 fantasy baseball starter. Wins could be an issue as the team is still going to struggle some but that is a very fickle stat to try and predict so dont even try. Also we all know the AL East is a beast to play in so there could be some benchings when Matusz goes against the Yankees or Red Sox.
All in all, I think Brian Matusz is a very nice SP stock this season and he will come quite cheap for a guy who is clearly on his way up the pitching ladder. He wont be the main reason you win your league but he will certainly be a guy who will help you get there.
Projection: 15-9 3.98 ERA 177 K 1.27 WHIP