Brian Matusz will be back on the mound tonight in the evening portion of the doubleheader at Fenway Park.
Matusz has not pitched in two weeks since he gave up five runs in just 1 1/3 innings against the Yankees. He said yesterday at Camden Yards that he feels like he has made some progress in his recent side sessions, working with pitching coach Rick Adair.
“I feel like I’ve definitely made strides in terms of going out there and getting a good feel in the bullpen and working,” Matusz said. “As for the results, the game will be the deciding factor but I feel like I’ve made adjustments to go out there with confidence.”
Matusz is 1-7 with an ERA of 9.84 in 10 major league starts this year over 43 innings. In four starts since returning from the minors in mid-August, he is 0-3 with an ERA of 11.43 and he has given up five earned runs or more in his last six starts.
Matusz was asked if he thinks there has been one or two major reasons for his struggles.
“It’s just a matter of finding a delivery that is working for me and having that confidence and that feeling going out there knowing that I’m going to be able to compete and win and find my groove,” he said.
One theory about his poor year is that then-pitching coach Mark Connor tinkered too much with his delivery in spring training. But presented with that theory yesterday, Matusz chose to take the high road.
“No, I was working on things to find my groove. To be able to be quick to home plate out of the stretch and to be consistent with all my pitches. We’ve been working all year to find that and that’s what we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks,” he said.
Matusz himself, at times this year, has seemed to question his own conditioning and has recently been working with Brady Anderson. He said will continue to do that this offseason.
“When I had that injury (at the start of the season), I lost some weight, from not being able to workout. I’ve just been working hard in the weight room, getting my strength back so I can go out there every five days and feel strong. I’ve been able to increase my body weight and increase my strength,” Matusz said.
“For the last, about, 90 days, I’ve been training with Brady Anderson. I really like his workouts and that is something I’m going to continue in the offseason.”
The lefty does have a track record of success against Boston with a career mark of 2-0 and ERA of 2.43 in five career starts against the Sox. In three previous Fenway Park starts, he is 1-0 with an ERA of 2.00.
Tonight’s start will be his first against Boston this season.
Update: Matusz was hittable again in the first inning tonight as he continued to struggle. After the Orioles gave him a 3-0 lead, he allowed four runs to the Sox on two singles, a double and a Jed Lowrie three-run homer. He threw 31 pitches in that inning as his ERA increased to 10.43.
Update II: Matusz is out of the game with Boston leading 6-3 after two innings. In 1 2/3, he gave up six hits and six runs on 48 pitches. Over his last two starts, Matusz has pitched a combined three innings allowing 11 hits and 11 runs.
It is easy to say this now, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea to bring Matusz back from the minors in mid August, just when he was starting to pitch well at Norfolk. You have to wonder now if we just witnessed his last outing of the 2011 season.