The final week before the All-Star Game usually features a few demotions of starting pitchers with the idea that they can get a start in the minors during the break and then come back up afterwards. We’ll see if that’s the case with Brian Matusz here.
The Orioles demoted their left-hander Sunday after he gave up five runs — four earned — in four innings against the Indians. He fell to 5-10 on the year, with his ERA climbing to 5.42.
Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, was expected to open this season in the minors after posting a record-setting 10.69 ERA in 12 starts last year. However, he was very impressive in spring training in earning a rotation spot, and he did solid enough work for the Orioles for the first two months of the year, going 5-5 with a 4.41 ERA.
Unfortunately, Matusz’s loss today was his fifth in five starts. He has an 8.44 ERA during that span. He gave up homers to Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham in the loss today.
Matusz figures to get two starts in the minors before the Orioles reevaluate his status. If he pitches well, he might be back as the fifth starter right after the break. If not, then the Orioles may try Chris Tillman or Joel Pineiro as a replacement.
From Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer comes word that new Indians left fielder Johnny Damon made a premature exit from Wednesday’s game against the White Sox due to what is being described as “general cramping.”
Damon officially joined the Indians on Tuesday and was making his Cleveland debut tonight. The 38-year-old finished 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Cramping is usually a day-to-day thing, but there’s been no word from the Tribe about the severity of it.
Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham took turns filling in. The Indians have a night game Thursday.
This was a tough day to be a veteran outfielder trying to crack Cleveland’s roster, as the Indians sent Ryan Spilborghs to Triple-A and released Felix Pie.
Spilborghs signed a minor-league deal with the Indians after being non-tendered by the Rockies, but lost a camp battle with Aaron Cunningham to be the right-handed-hitting backup outfielder. He has 1,769 career plate appearances and is 32 years old, but Spilborghs has hit just .239 with a .679 OPS away from Coors Field for his career.
Pie was once a top prospect in the Cubs system, but couldn’t work his way into consistent playing time with the Orioles and had to settle for a minor-league deal with the Indians. He’s still just 27 years old and has a solid fourth outfielder skill set, but Pie has hit just .248 with a .673 OPS in 1,051 career plate appearances.