Arizona Diamondbacks Sign Brian Matusz to a Minor-League Deal
Former Oriole Brian Matusz has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Brian Matusz have agreed to a minor-league deal. The former top prospect has yet to find a groove in the majors, and clearly the Diamondbacks are willing to work with him on his issues.
The 30-year-old broke onto the scene at the young age of 22 when the Baltimore Orioles selected him with the fourth-overall pick in the 2009 draft. He quickly rose through the minors and was pitching in the big leagues by the end of that year, although it was to relatively little success.
Originally a starting pitcher, he struggled to translate his potential into reality. His fastball never had much gusto. Perhaps as a result, he failed to become a high-strikeout pitcher until several years into his career. Walks were also a bit of a problem for the lefty.
Matusz transitioned to the bullpen during the 2012 season, and things improved a bit there. He managed to wrestle his earned run average below four during the next season, and advanced metrics felt that his work was possibly even better than that. Fielding independent pitching (FIP) pegged his run prevention skills at a 2.91 earned run average that year.
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In 2014, the left-handed pitcher elevated his strikeouts per nine innings above nine for the first time in his career. Despite lacking velocity, he managed to induce punch-outs at an impressive rate, and he posted another solid season. 2015 saw his figures improve even further, and he held batters to an impressive .208 batting average.
Last season, however, was a bit of a wash for the pitcher. He spent most of it in the minor leagues with the Chicago Cubs and the Orioles, and he only pitched nine innings of MLB work. In an admittedly small sample size, he allowed 14 runs and 17 hits.
From 2013 to 2015, the lefty served as a lethal weapon against lefties in the Orioles’ bullpen. He held them to just a .190 batting average and .320 slugging percentage alongside solid strikeout figures. This could certainly make him a valuable asset to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lack experienced left-handed relievers.
As a whole, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen lacks quality. Fernando Rodney could be a good piece, but a healthy Brian Matusz pitching like he did a few years ago would prove to be a great addition. Time will tell how this low-risk move will pan out for the Diamondbacks.