UPDATE: According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Brian Matusz will go on the disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle. Orioles president Andy MacPhail said he’ll be sidelined anywhere from three to six weeks.
Meanwhile, prospect left-hander Zach Britton will be called up to make his major league debut Sunday against the Rays. There was speculation that the Orioles would wait until at least April 21 in an effort to delay his service time for a year, but the injury to Matusz has obviously changed their plans.
The 23-year-old left-hander put up an impressive 1.35 ERA over 20 innings during Grapefruit League play and posted a 2.70 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 124/51 K/BB ratio over 153 1/2 innings between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk last season. He was named as the organization’s No. 1 pitching prospect by Baseball America over the winter.
5:17 PM: Brian Matusz will not make his scheduled start tomorrow against the Rays because of a back injury and is headed for an MRI exam, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
Matsuz was questionable to make the start in the first place after taking a line drive off his biceps during a simulated game Monday, but was cleared to pitch before being scratched with back soreness.
Selected fourth overall in the 2008 draft, Matusz threw 176 innings with a 4.30 ERA and 143/63 K/BB ratio as a rookie and even at just 24 years old the Orioles were counting on him to help stabilize a very young, inexperienced starting rotation.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.