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.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.
The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.
Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.
Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.
Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.