It's no secret that the Orioles are more than a little concerned with Brian Matusz's declining velocity. Matusz insists that he's healthy, and that might be true, but the radar gun doesn't lie. A player who once regularly threw 94 mph fastballs now tops out in the high 80s, and opposing hitters have been teeing off on him in his past three starts. And while the Orioles, and their fans, are holding out hope that the 24-year-old will regain his old form, manager Buck Showalter said Sunday the reality is Matusz needs to figure out how to pitch with the stuff he's got because his velocity might not come back this year. "I think you've got to proceed like it might not [return]," Showalter said. "It's not just five starts. He pitched in the spring, he pitched in rehab starts. It's more than that. It's a pretty large sampling." There are plenty of examples, Showalter said, of pitchers who lost velocity during their career and managed to remain effective. But typically, they were veterans who had already learned the nuances of pitching. Matusz is going to need to learn how to locate his secondary pitches better, Showalter said, and deal with the psychological change of knowing he's not the same player who came into the major leagues and could throw the ball past people. "I can [think] to back to 20 guys that come to the big leagues with [good] of velocity. And then as their career goes on, [they lose it]," Showalter said. "Whether it's Jimmy Key or Frank Tanana ... what do you do to defend yourself? How do you give yourself a chance to win? In some ways, it may be a positive in his career, if you're searching for silver linings. The good thing is he's got good secondary pitches. If he commands them, he should be OK." Showalter chuckled after he said the words "searching for silver linings," an acknowledgement that it was a bit of a stretch to suggest this recent string of bad outings — in his past three starts, he has a 15.58 ERA while surrendering 20 hits, eight walks and six homers in 111/3 innings — could be good for Matusz. But it's obvious Matusz needs to figure out different ways to get hitters out because the team says the plan is for him to work through his issues in the majors.
Showalter: Orioles' Matusz might have to pitch through decreased velocity
Baltimore Sun | Jun 27