Things tend to change around here, and often times in a hurry, but manager Buck Showalter indicated after tonight’s game that left-hander Brian Matusz will remain in the rotation and make his next start.
“It seems like a lot of balls squared up off him when he’s kind of down sometimes,” Showalter said. “It looks like he’s getting some outs up. I’ve seen him when he’s good, and he has good command of the fastball. Really all his pitches. Like I said, we’ll keep working, trying to get back to that status.”
Asked if it can be done here, Showalter replied, “That’s what the plan is.”
Matusz allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Reds hit three home runs off him in a 10-5 victory.
“He was a little crisper early on, but he wasn’t able to be consistent with it,” Showalter said. “Made some mistakes and paid for them. Think he had a breaking ball to (Joey) Votto and a fastball on another one. Those balls were squared up pretty good. A lot of balls flying out of here tonight. We had some of them, too. If we could just get some zeros up there, there was a ballgame there to be won.”
Showalter uses the same line when asked about Matusz’s velocity. It wouldn’t be a topic if Matusz hadn’t routinely kept his fastball in the low 90s in previous seasons.
Well, of course. There would be no reason to obsess over Matusz’s velocity if he always threw in the mid-to-upper 80s.
“It wasn’t down early,” Showalter said. “I think because we’ve seen it differently is why it’s a topic. There are guys who pitch very effectively. Look at (Bronson) Arroyo, for that matter. But you’re going to have to have real good command of your other pitches, and he got some outs with the changeup. It looked like he was going to fall in line there a little bit, but never could seem to find his step. He’s going to have to have a lot of things working for him. Command just wasn’t quite there, but we’ll keep working, and hopefully it’ll get better.
“Brian, physically, he feels fine and I think he’s hopefully a good start away from getting back there. That’s how you have to look at it, and keep working with things between starts and see if he can get back. I think he will.”
Showalter concedes that Matusz’s confidence is likely affected by these outings.
“This is a 24, 25 year old young man that has had some success in just about everything he’s done pitching and finished up pretty good last year, and he’s had a lot of challenges health-wise this year for the first time in his career. So, I try to keep that in mind,” Showalter said. “Obviously, it affects you physically, but sometimes mentally. He’s strong enough that he’ll fight through it and be better as a result of it.”
Showalter was reminded that Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen were optioned this season because they weren’t getting the job done. Could the same thing happen with Matusz?
“That would come with anybody, but I don’t think that’s in the best interest to have the manager sitting in here an hour or so after his outing, throwing it out there, so I’m not going there. But I think we all know,” Showalter replied.
“There are different stages of a season where you’re equipped to handle certain things, and I think Brian’s, at this point, best served... We’ll see what each day brings and what the options are, but last thing I want to do is start weighing on that when I’m sure Brian’s a little down about the outing tonight.”
The game ended with left-hander Aroldis Chapman striking out the side in the ninth. His last pitches to Matt Wieters and Robert Andino were clocked at 101 mph.
This was the first time that Showalter saw Chapman live.
“Hope the last one, too,” Showalter said. “He’s got a good arm. That’s the understatement of the night. I think everybody’s curiosity was satisfied tonight.”