In 2008, the Baltimore Orioles banked on the University of San Diego's stand out pitcher Brian Matusz becoming the future ace of their starting rotation and in 2011 there's a very good chance that future is now.
Baltimore would select Matusz with their first round pick of the 2008 Major League Baseball draft. This lead to extensive and exhausting contract negotiations that would ultimately end with Matusz and his agent finally agreeing to terms with the O's on the last possible day for MLB teams to sign their drafted rookies.
Despite a less than smooth transition into the Orioles organization, Matusz would impress during his first season in the minors, so much so that Baseball America would name him the ninth best pitching prospect in the middle of the 2009 season. Though his 2009 season in the majors would prove to be nothing flashy, posting an ERA above 4.0 and earning a WHIP of 1.48, he was able to win five of his eight starts during his short time in the majors.
The lefty from Grand Junction, Colorado, would earn himself a considerable amount of hype from the Baltimore fan base during the following off-season, with many believing that the 2010 season would be the breakout season for Matusz, considering he'd have a full season in the MLB.
In the early goings of the 2010 season, the Orioles lefty would fall short of his hype, struggling out of the gate in the months of April and May. One could very well make the argument that Matusz was a victim of his team's lack of offensive support, but the O's number 17 had considerable difficulty keeping his ERA below 4.50 despite racking up a respectable amount of strikeouts in each many outings.
The struggles would only continue for Matusz as the calendar turned to June and July, winning just one of his 12 starts during the two month stretch. The only redeeming parts of the Colorado native's season came at the end of the summer when Matusz would showcase all the talents that made him the most highly regarded pitching prospect in the Baltimore organization.
The young hurler posted a 2.18 ERA over his last 11 starts and record seven wins over the last two months of the season. Not only did he record seven wins, he recorded them over the likes of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Texas Rangers and the entire American League East.
With Matusz already cemented into the second rotation spot in new manager Buck Showalter's rotation, the Orioles and their fan base are hoping to see their pitcher continue his late 2010 stretch into the new season and take his rightful place as the true ace of the Baltimore rotation. Matusz has the raw stuff to achieve this goal and respectable off-season acquisitions by the O's front office has given the organizations' prized lefty an offense to support him on the mound.