I watched Brian Matusz pitch six shutout innings on just 70 pitches last night for Double-A Bowie against Erie at Prince George's Stadium.
I am sure most Orioles fans can't wait to see Matusz back on the mound and producing those kind of results for the big league club. He has been out all year with a strained intercostal muscle.
But even with two rehab starts under his belt, in which he has allowed just five hits and one run over ten innings between Frederick and Bowie, I think the smart thing to do would be for Matusz to make at least one more rehab appearance before coming back to the Orioles.
The Orioles have taken the slow and cautious approach thus far with one of their top young talents, so why rush now?
Matusz's fastball velocity was a tick or two off the normal readings last night when he pitched often in the mid-to-high 80's. That doesn't throw up any red flags and it may just be that he is still building up arm strength. Also, he threw 60 pitches Monday for Frederick and 70 last night.
Should he really go back to the big leagues and perhaps still be not quite ready to throw 100 pitches yet?
Also, after his outing, Matusz was honest in saying that his timing was off a bit, that he wasn't happy with his two seam fastball and that he left some changeups up in the zone. The stats on the outing were very good but Matusz looked beyond the numbers in assessing his outing.
We know the O's have struggled on offense and with their bullpen. But the pitchers in the Orioles' rotation have been decent and it's not the worst thing to see Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman get another shot or two while the big league club waits on Matusz.
Matusz is a real talent and might be able to step right into the majors next week and crank out several shutout innings, as he did last night. It will be exciting for the fans when he returns to the club. But the Orioles have taken a prudent approach with Matusz to get him to this point.
There is no need to change the plan now.
In the minors last night: Another good outing for Frederick right-hander Bobby Bundy in the Keys win over Kinston. He pitched eight innings of three-hit ball with no walks and eight strikeouts. Bundy did not get a decision, but Frederick won 3-1 on Tyler Kolodny's walk-off, two-run homer in the ninth.
Over eight starts now, the 21-year-old Bundy is 4-3 and his ERA of 2.42 is seventh best in the Carolina League. In 44 2/3 innings, the league is batting just .232 off Bundy, who has given up just eight walks to 43 strikeouts. He has a ground to air out ratio of 1.74 and Bundy has allowed two earned runs or less in six of his eight outings.