May 31, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (17) throws in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Tigers 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Orioles bullpen has the second most saves in major league baseball with 28. In that bullpen, is former San Diego Torero, Brian Matusz. After a phenomenal college career pitching in USD’s starting rotation, the left-hander has been doing his damage as a relief pitcher. It wasn’t easy for Matusz, and he endured a great deal of adversity to get where he is now.
At San Diego, Matusz was one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball. He was named the West Coast Conference’s player of the year, and was named a finalist for the Roger Clemens award, which is awarded to the best pitcher in NCAA division 1 college baseball. He pitched in the Torero’s starting rotation, and was the teams proverbial ace. Matusz was picked fourth overall in the 2008 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles, and signed on the last possible date, August 15th.
Matusz found his way into the Orioles rotation on August 9th, 2009, when he made his major league debut against the Detroit Tigers. In that outing, he allowed 1 earned run, 6 hits, and struck out 5 in his first win as a major league pitcher. He was named to Baseball America’s 2010 all rookie team, as one of the starting pitchers.
Injuries caused Matusz to struggle on the mound. After a two month stint on the DL, he accumulated a 1-4 record with an ERA above 7.00, before being demoted to tripe-A Norfolk. He worked on regaining his velocity while in the minor leagues.
Matusz started the 2012 season in the rotation, but then moved to the bullpen soon after, finding his true niche as major league baseball pitcher. His statistics as a reliever were phenomenal for the remainder of the 2012 season: 19 strikeouts and a 1.35 ERA in 18 appearances. In 2013, the success hasn’t been as prevalent as in 2012, but he is still producing. Matusz has a 2-1 record, 24 strikeouts, and a 4.20 ERA so far this season.
The Baltimore Orioles are rolling this season in the über competitive AL East, and are 2nd place in the division behind Boston. They are currently second in the wild card standings, and at this pace they will be participating in the MLB postseason. There is a chance that Matusz could be pitching on the national stage, and competing for a world series ring.