Stacey Long: What if Brian Matusz doesn't get better?

After Brian Matusz's terrible outing last night and his subsequent demotion to Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles' future is looking very unclear. Going into the season, before Matusz's injury, he was one of the players with the fewest question marks. But now, who knows what will happen? A polished college pitcher who sailed through the minors the first time, we know he has the talent. Hopefully he can figure out what he needs to and get back to Baltimore. But what if he doesn't?

It's a frightening thought. For years now, Orioles fans have been clinging to the young pitching core as the group that will bring the team back into relevance. Andy MacPhail told us, "grow the arms, buy the bats," but what if the arms don't grow? What if, out of Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton, only one has a great career? There aren't currently any more arms in the high levels of the minors, so where will the Orioles go?

There is already talk around the blogOsphere that the Orioles need to completely rebuild (again). "Trade everyone but Wieters " is what one of my co-writers at Camden Chat has been saying. That seems a bit extreme, and I'm certainly not there yet, but if Matusz spends the rest of the year struggling in Triple-A alongside Tillman, the Orioles are going to be in deep, deep trouble. They'll still need the bats and they won't have any arms to go with them.

The young pitchers are the future of this franchise. If enough of them don't pan out, the Orioles and their fans will be in for many more years of what they've been going through for more than a decade now. That might be more than this already abused fan base can take, frankly. So cross your fingers that Matusz and/or Tillman figure things out in Norfolk, and that Britton and Arrieta can continue to improve at the major league level, because things will be very ugly if they don't.

Stacey Long blogs about the Orioles at Camden Chat. Read Long's Orioles observations as part of's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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