Matusz through two starts: No concern over the fastball

After two starts since returning from the disabled list, Brian Matusz is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA. Matusz gave up one run in 5 2/3 at Seattle and two runs over 5 1/3 Monday against Oakland.

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Matusz said he is certainly not yet in midseason form, but is generally pleased with his progress to this point. Reporters have noted his fastball velocity seems a bit down from where it was last year, but Matusz said he is not concerned about that.

"A lot of people are talking about the fastball velocity, but it's going to come," Matusz said. It's not gone, it will be there. Maybe there is a mechanical adjustment where I am blocking myself off a little bit, but other than that I feel really, really good.

"Obviously, I'd like to go deeper in the game and help out the bullpen. But they were a good first two starts. Something to work off of and build off of."

He threw 84 pitches in his first start and 89 in the second. He said there is room for improvement.

"I need to get better, too. I know that. I need to get myself back to midseason form where I'd like to be," Matusz said. "It was a really tough couple of months for me. I never felt like I was away from the team, I was watching every game. But not being out there wasn't easy, wasn't fun."

Not being able to pitch in a major league game can make someone realize how special that is, even someone like Matusz with just 42 career starts.

"It makes you sit back and realize, man, this is pretty awesome," he said. "We have a great thing going on here. It's an exciting time and makes you want to get out there even more."

We've been wondering if the Orioles could get on a roll when their main four starters - Matusz, Jeremy Guthrie, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta - were all in the rotation together.

It's a potentially very strong foursome. The Yankees had their "core four" group of players and Matusz said that nickname has come up when the starters talk about their potential as a group.

"It's funny, we've been making jokes about that the last few days - the core four," he said. "We've got the guys to do it, we have the arms. Just a matter of continously working off each other and getting better.

"This is a great group, we get along real well and we are great friends. We hang out and have fun in the dugout. It's a great group to do that with."

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