Let’s play a game. I’ll give you a MLB pitching line accumulated over the course of six starts and you project the number of wins the stats should have generated for Joe Majorleaguer. Ready? Okay:
3.69 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 5.77 K/9, 5 of 6 Quality Starts
So what do you think? 3-2? 4-1 maybe?
In the case of Brian Matusz, that line will earn you nothing but animosity towards your teammates and frustration with your organization. Since June 1, Matusz has posted those exact stats and has nary a win to show for it. He is 0-4 for the month, pushing his overall record to 2-9, a.k.a Kenshin Kawakami territory.
How has this happened to such a highly-regarded pitching prospect? Matusz must have crossed the devil himself, because this is the perfect storm of suckage:
1. In his six starts since the beginning of June, Matusz has had to face the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Padres, Marlins, and Athletics. Of those teams, two lead their respective divisions and two lead their league’s Wild Card chases. The teams’ combined overall records as of June 30 are 259-206, good for a .557 winning percentage.
2. For the season, Matusz has a .324 BABIP, suggesting he’s been unlucky since the break of Spring Training. The stat has even come down after peaking at .370 towards the end of May. Still, his BABIP is 23rd highest in all of baseball and, according to his batted ball data, should actually be hovering around .297. Such a number would equate to approximately 85 hits, 19 fewer than he’s actually coughed up.
3. Matusz pitches for an awful team. The Orioles offense lacks punch (10th in the AL in HRs), production (13th in the AL in RBI), and creativity (last in the AL in runs). It should come as no surprise that the Orioles generate an average of 3.27 runs per nine innings for Matusz, the tenth worst run support in all of baseball. On the rare occasion that the team actually gets a lead, they fail to hold it – the Orioles bullpen ranks last in the league in blown saves.
This being baseball, my initial inclination was that Matusz’s stats would begin to adjust towards the norm over the remainder of the season. That lasted about as long as it took to unearth his next four opponents. Assuming that Matusz pitches every fifth day and that he starts in the Orioles’ first series after the All-Star break, the southpaw’s next four outings will come against the Red Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays and Twins (2 first place teams, a Wild Card leader, and the team with the most HRs in all of baseball).
Dousing Matusz’s wounds with gasoline (a Jack Bauer-esque type of torture), when the Orioles finally square off against another miserable team (Royals) at the end of July, the rookie is not scheduled to pitch in the series.
What did Matusz do to deserve this? Did anyone’s dog mysteriously get run over in late March?