Anthony Amobi: Can Brian Matusz ever regain what made him so special?

Right now, despite the Orioles doing relatively well so far this season, it has been apparent that there's been an issue with the starting pitching outside of Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen.

On Tuesday night, southpaw Brian Matusz struggled on the mound again in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He gave up five runs in five innings, plus gave up a career-high 13 hits.

Matusz's season has been filled with some ups and downs, but fans have to start wondering if the bright young pitcher we saw at the end of a remarkable 2010 campaign will ever show up again.

At the end of that season, he was nothing short of phenomenal, winning seven games and pitching to 2.18 ERA in the last two months. Well, we all know what happened to Matusz in 2011 and the results of his incredibly disastrous season - one of the worst ever for a starting pitcher in baseball history.

As the calendar turned to 2012, things looked better for Matusz. He made the team out of spring training and looked terrific for stretches during the first 70 games or so this season. Sadly, he has once again been terribly inconsistent on the mound and has lost four straight games. In those four games, he has an ERA of 8.31 and has allowed 16 runs on 33 hits in a bit over 17 innings.

Not good.

Then again, Matusz had an incredible start against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 3. He only gave up a run in seven-plus innings in that outing.

At this point, I'm wondering this: Is the Matusz we've seen over the past two seasons who he is or is he still trying to find his way?

I still think Matusz is undoubtedly part of the future with the organization, but you have to wonder - has he regressed? Are his issues right now mechanical, mental or is this the best pitcher Matusz can be?

Since Matusz has come back to the majors in mid-2011, the results have been shaky - at best.

Right now, his velocity seems to be back up - from the mid-to-high 80s then to the low 90s now. Now it seems that he cannot seem to locate his pitches as they are left up in the zone, hitters seem to know what's coming and just plain hit Matusz is hard.

Matusz's margin for error was thin to begin with, but now what's his immediate future with the Orioles?

Could Matusz be sent to the minors again, or will he given a chance to work through his issues? With Zach Britton on the mend and working on a comeback to the majors at Norfolk, in addition to Chris Tillman pitching well there and the emergence of Miguel Gonzalez, Matusz may be living on borrowed time in the Baltimore rotation if he does not improve - and soon.

Despite his struggles the past few seasons, Matusz is an immensely talented pitcher. He just needs to find a way to succeed on the mound again and help the Orioles perhaps clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 1997.

Anthony Amobi blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O's appear as part of MASNsports.com'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 MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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