After his fifth loss in a row on Sunday (and being booed as he exited the game), Brian Matusz was sent down to AAA Norfolk. It’s been an up and down season for the still very young left hander and the demotion was past due. After his horrendous season in 2011 and little improvement this year the Orioles really had no choice in the matter. The once promising savior of the Orioles has now officially hit rock bottom. It seems like it’s been a long time since this picture captured the future of the Orioles.
Through all this doom and gloom though, I still don’t believe it’s the end for Brian. He has shown glimmers of potential however short lived they are. I think that being sent down could be the best thing for him. He needs time to figure things out and the major leagues aren’t the place to do that. Clearly it’s just a mental thing with Brian. He needs to gain his confidence back and have a change in mentality. He needs to adopt a bull dog like approach where he just doesn’t let things get inside his head.
Quite frankly, I think he should be sent all the way back down to Frederick and be made to work his way back up through the rotation. This would give him some added confidence that he sorely needs at this point. He has the skills and the proverbial “stuff”. He just needs to learn how to avoid imploding on himself when things go wrong. He has said himself: “Right now, my confidence isn’t there because I haven’t been winning ballgames. I know I have the stuff, but I just have to put it all together.”
It’s not the end for Matusz. He has the ingredients he just needs some tweaking. This kind of comeback has been witnessed before. I bet you’ll never guess who it was. If you guessed Roy Halladay then you are correct! Oh…you didn’t guess him? Well I don’t blame you. It’s hard to believe that probably the best pitcher in baseball struggled just as bad as Brian Matusz has.
After a promising first year for Halladay (3.92 ERA in 149 innings) he found himself struggling in his second year. He posted a 10.64 ERA in 67 innings and then found himself sent down to single A in the middle of the season to work his way back to the majors. Over the next year he jumped back up through the minors and rejoined the Blue Jays in the middle of the 2001 season. I guess you can say the rest was history after that.
In Matusz’s first full year, he posted a 4.30 ERA in 175 innings and was tied for 5th in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting. The following year he melted down; posting a 10.69 ERA and going 1-9.
While Brian Matusz’s struggles might be a little more severe than Halladay’s, I believe that Matusz could make a similar type of comeback. Obviously, he won’t ever be at the level Halladay is at but I believe he could eventually turn into a quality middle of the rotation type of starter.
Whether Brian has the where with all to come back from his struggles remains to be seen. He hasn’t shown he has the mental fortitude to do so yet. It would be a sad story if he never came back from such a disappointment but at least I could say I got to see his last start at the big leagues in person. Although there is no indication that he can overcome this, I still believe he can for some reason. I hope he proves me right.