Mixed-league roto owners, are you in need of a waiver-wire pitcher before Thursday's slate of games?
Here's my free-agent choice (from the majority of 12-team leagues) for one day of fantasy stardom:
Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles (@ Red Sox)
1. The differences between Matusz's first five starts (12 walks, 17 runs, 21 strikeouts) and second five starts (nine walks, 10 runs, 28 strikeouts) are astounding—in a good way.
2. As a result, fantasy owners are left to wonder which Matusz will show up for the next five starts. Given my spring-training support of Matusz (four wins, 2.94 ERA since May 12), I'm siding with Good Matusz here, primarily because of his exemplary skill set and the Orioles' need for a prospective ace during the pennant-contending months of June, July, August and September.
3. Matusz has surrendered only 10 runs against AL East opponents this season, and just five since April 26.
4. On May 22, Matusz stifled the Red Sox, allowing just one run and two hits (while striking out nine) over 6.1 innings of victorious ball. On the flip side, his career ERA at Fenway Park is only 4.58; but he does have 16 strikeouts in 19.2 innings.
5. In the six games that Matusz has gone at least six innings since April 26, he has yielded just nine runs and 11 walks.
The Next Five For Thursday
1. Aaron Harang (Dodgers) @ Phillies—The Dodgers veteran has allowed two or less runs in five of six outings. He's a very tempting option in the feature role.
2. Brandon McCarthy (Athletics) vs. Rangers—The underrated pitcher has been very strong in his last five starts...although the 10-strikeout gem on May 12 might have been an aberration.
3. Mike Leake (Reds) vs. Pirates—A rock-solid asset in the Reds' rotation. Leake has tallied 22 strikeouts in his last four outings, while surrendering just six runs.
4. Clay Buchholz (Red Sox) vs. Orioles—Buchholz has been slowly turning the wheels of a significant rebound to his wretched April. In his last five starts, Buchholz has yielded only three runs or less four times.
5. Casey Crosby (Tigers) vs. Indians—This talented prospect will surely fare better in his second start, or Detroit could finish with an ugly 1-5 homestand.
A Look Back
Wednesday's selection: Padres pitcher Clayton Richard
Final tally: 5.2 innings, 10 hits, four runs allowed, one strikeout and zero walks.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.