Brian Matusz knocked around in first start since demotion to minors

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Brian Matusz was demoted to the minors last week after posting an 8.77 ERA over his first six starts. The young left-hander had his first start back at Triple-A Norfolk last night and according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, it didn’t go so well.

Matusz allowed four runs on seven hits (including two home runs) over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to Triple-A Charlotte. He threw 51 out of 87 pitches for strikes while striking out three, walking two and throwing a wild pitch.

Matusz, who began the year on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, allowed nine home runs over just 25 2/3 innings before being sent to the minor leagues last week. It’s easy to say there was some bad luck involved there, but when you consider that the velocity on his fastball is down three MPH from last season, opposing batters are clearly having no problem squaring him up right now.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.