2011 Fantasy Baseball Projection: Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles

Mike HarrisContributor IMarch 29, 2011

SARASOTA, FL - APRIL 03:  Pitcher Brian Matusz #17 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the New York Mets during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Ed Smith Stadium on April 3, 2010 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

This week, we take a look at our final "September Star" to get you ready for draft day: Brian Matusz.

Matusz was a 2010 preseason fantasy sleeper, as he lit up the opposition in spring training. As most will point out, don't place too much stock into March heroes.

In his first full season, he compiled a line of 10-12/4.30/1.34/143 in 175+ innings for the Orioles. From August on, though, he looked every bit the ace many were hoping he'd become.

Let's look at those final two months and decide if he is ready to turn in a full season of magic.

The lefty's stat line over his last 11 starts was: 7-1/2.18/1.03/52:16 in 62 innings—that is pretty darn good. The statistics that stand out in my opinion are his WHIP, fly-ball tendencies and strand rate.

First, his WHIP. In those 11 starts, Matusz walked only 16 batters in 62 innings (2.18 BB/9) and gave up only 48 hits (7.0 H/9). In his 21 starts prior to that, he walked 47 in 113+ innings (3.72 BB/9) and gave up 125 hits (9.9 H/9).

What do you think happens to a pitcher's success when he puts three-and-a-half fewer men on base every nine innings?

Next, his fly-ball tendencies. Look at the chart below:



You'll notice that in his torrid end to the season, his fly-ball percentage actually increased quite substantially. The important statistic hidden in this is his home run per fly ball percentage.

In those 11 starts, he allowed a home run only 6.4 percent of the time a batter put the ball into the air. Compare that to the league leader, Josh Johnson (4.2 percent) and the worst performer, James Shields (13.8 percent).

The key for Matusz then is to limit the amount of fly balls while keeping the ball in the park.

Finally, his strand rate: For the season, it was 71.6 percent. To put that into perspective, the major league average was approximately 73 percent.

Matusz' strand rate in August and September/October was 84.2 and 90.1 percent respectively—completely unsustainable.

Combine all three of these areas, and you'll have the recipe for Matusz' success. He needs to keep guys off base and the ball in the park. Matusz does this by mastering the strike zone with his ability to strike batters out.

In 2010, his tERA was 4.20, which was pretty similar to his 4.30 ERA. So what can we expect from Matusz in 2011?

Another year of learning can do a lot for a young pitcher, so if he gets his K rate up and his BB rate down closer to his minor league career numbers (and that of his final 11 starts), I think he'll get his ERA into the threes and his WHIP lower than 1.25.


My 2011 Brian Matusz Projection: 14-10/4.00/1.25/160

While his current ADP shows him going off the board as the No. 59 starting pitcher, I currently have Matusz as my No. 62. I do not think he'll be the pitcher who put up the mediocre 2010 stat line, and he certainly won't be the dominant pitcher he was at the end of the season. In the middle?

Yeah, that's where my comfort zone would be when drafting him this year.

Matusz is currently posting a 5.93 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 13:7 strikeout to walk ratio and he has served up three home runs in 13+ spring innings.

Now that you have a PhD in discovering who will and will not produce in 2011, see if you can do your own homework on the following players who excelled at the end of 2010: Mike Morse, David Murphy, Neil Walker, Jhoulys Chacin and James McDonald.

Previous "September Stars" include:

...Madison Bumgarner

...Daniel Hudson

...Mike Aviles

...Logan Morrison

...Ryan Raburn

...Drew Stubbs

...Jose Bautista (Intro)

Mike is a Senior Writer for 4th and Home where this, and other work, can be found. Additionally, he is co-host of The 4th and Home Show on Blog Talk Radio and iTunes.