When last we saw Orioles hurler Brian Matusz, he was setting a major league record. A bad one. He ended last year with a 10.69 ERA in 49 2/3 innings, the highest ERA ever for a pitcher to throw at least 40 innings.
Matusz, though, appears to have shaken off that disaster. He was terrific against Tigers regulars on Thursday, striking out six in four scoreless innings. While he gave up three runs in his spring debut, he’s pitched eight shutout innings since, and he has a 13/0 K/BB ratio in 10 innings overall.
Even better news is that Matusz is back throwing in the low-90s after averaging just 88 mph with his fastball last year.
It suggests a bounce-back season is on the way for the former No. 4 overall pick in the draft. It was expected that Matusz would have to go to Triple-A at the start of the season and work his way back to the majors from there, but now it looks like a rotation spot is very much within reach. He still has the highest ceiling of any Orioles pitcher.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.