I'll pass along some thoughts here on Brian Matusz who will make his Major League debut for the Orioles tonight.
I have seen Matusz pitch several times this year at both Frederick and Bowie.
I don't see the game with the critical eye of a scout and can't quite project if what I saw of Matusz at Bowie will translate vs. big league hitters. I can just tell you what I saw first-hand.
First off, don't expect Matusz to light up any radar guns. He throws 90, 91 mostly and I don't remember him in the mid 90's even one time. He doesn't over power hitters but gets them out with a stunning four-pitch assortment.
He throws a fastball, curve, slider and change.
When I saw him, his best pitch was the changeup. His arm speed on it looked great and the pitch got great results, weak swings and pop ups. Will big league hitters react the same? Well, they are big league hitters, so they probably will handle it better.
His curve didn't seem to have quite the 12-6 break of Chris Tillman's but wasn't far off. His slider has nice late movement and right-handed hitters would swing at it and it would end up near their feet.
Matusz was also impressive after the game. This is one articulate, intelligent kid. You'll be impressed with his thorough answers in the post game interviews.
Like Tillman, Matusz is said to be confident, but not arrogant.
In college where players can crush even good pitches with aluminum bats, Matusz often used his curve and change to miss bats or produce weak swings.
This year, the O's encouraged him to work off his fastball. Establish that first and then start adding in that excellent assortment of other pitches at his disposal. He needed the command on his fastball to match that of his other three pitches.
I have seen him pitch when he struggled to get his fastball over. But it looked like he could throw a curve or change for a strike any time he wanted.
The control and command of the four pitches and his ability to hit corners and move the ball around is a real strength.
It could be that Matusz goes back to the minors when Brad Bergesen comes back. Or maybe he's that special case that never has to spend a day or inning at Triple-A. Nick Markakis pulled that off.
I think this 22-year-old lefty can too.
He has been compared to the Phillies Cole Hamels and I can surely see why. Their style of pitching is very similar.
I don't want to ratchet up expectations any higher than they already are for Matusz.
But he is a Major League talent. Let's not grade him or overly praise him on one or two starts. But let's enjoy his progress and the ride along the way.
I see Matusz as the real deal. And he starts dealing tonight.