Brian Matusz has a 9.84 ERA and the highest homer rate ever

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Brian Matusz had the shortest start of his miserable season yesterday, recording just four outs while allowing five runs against the Yankees.

He threw 176 innings with a 4.30 ERA as a 23-year-old rookie last season, but instead of establishing himself atop the Orioles’ rotation Matusz is 1-7 with a 9.84 ERA in 10 starts and spent much of the season in the minors.

President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail indicated that yesterday was probably Matusz’s final start of the season, admitting to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com that “I don’t know that he’s doing us any good or we’re doing him any good” by remaining in the rotation to take a beating every five days.

Buck Showalter wouldn’t commit to Matusz’s status either way, but the left-hander has coughed up 48 runs in 43 innings while allowing opponents to hit .364 with a .679 slugging percentage. To put that in some context, consider that Jose Bautista is hitting .306 with a .632 slugging percentage.

As part of his overall struggles Matusz is in historic territory when it comes to serving up homers. He’s surrendered 15 long balls in 43 innings for a rate of 3.1 homers per nine innings, which is the highest homer rate in baseball history among all pitchers with at least 10 starts. If he were to somehow throw 200 innings at that rate it would equal 70 homers.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.