Speculation over the past week has been that the Baltimore Orioles may be stretching out Brian Matusz in the hope that a trade partner might be interested in obtaining the services of the lefty. The most likely scenario for this to eventuate would be a team that finds themselves desperate for pitching help at the end of the spring season.
That team may have been identified with back-to-back pitching disasters striking the New York Mets. Their only lefty in the bullpen – Josh Edgin – is having Tommy John surgery in coming days. And on top of that, their 24-year old right-handed starter of the past two years – Zack Wheeler – appears to be headed for the same.
A New York Post article by Dan Martin yesterday said that that the Mets were scouting Matusz, mentioning him in this quote that considered the various options open to them …
"The internal options — Dario Alvarez, Rule 5 selection Sean Gilmartin, Jack Leathersich and Scott Rice — all have been underwhelming this spring. The trade market also appears pretty sparse, although the Mets have been scouting Baltimore southpaw Brian Matusz, according to sources."
What might the Mets have on their team or in their organization that could be of interest or help to the Orioles? Well, that is probably something for Dan Duquette to figure out and us to learn only after it happens. I would guess it might be young prospects.
Matusz has looked reasonably good this spring, and we have talked much in the past about his level of effectiveness in the latter portions of 2014. He has been an effective reliever, especially given his splits against left-handed hitters. Looking at these R/L splits of the past three seasons …
That really is quite a dramatic difference of .312 versus .190, though much of the right-handed pain was inflicted while a starter in 2012. His most recent experience as a starter was in 2012 where he posted a 5.42 ERA in 16 games. In 18 games as a reliever that year, Matusz had a 1.35 ERA … though it was only over 13.1 innings.
Matusz has held lefties to a .190 average against him
Clearly the trend is a positive one of improvement against righties, but is it enough to be a starter again?
There is no doubt that Matusz desires to be a starter again; he admitted this in his most recent post-game interview on MASN (along with the obligatory wanting to do whatever to help the team win).
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I don’t think it is in the cards for Matusz to be a consistently effective starter, whereas he can be a great reliever. But if the Mets want to take a shot at it and give away half the farm, it could work out well for the O’s.
A trade of Matusz for young prospects would take $3.2 million off the books immediately, as well as that much and more for his final year of arbitration. This frees at least $7 million that could be used toward re-signing free agents.