As expected, Brian Matusz has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk and will start later tonight against the Athletics.
Matusz, who began the year on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, compiled an ugly 8.77 ERA and 18/11 K/BB ratio over his first six starts in the majors this season before being demoted at the end of June.
The 24-year-old left-hander has found more success in the minors, posting a 3.62 ERA and 34/18 K/BB ratio over eight starts. He has been especially impressive lately, allowing four runs over his last three starts, including a complete-game shutout last Thursday.
While the Orioles are hoping they’ll see the same pitcher who posted a 2.11 ERA over his final 11 starts last season, one of the more telling things to watch tonight will be his velocity. Matusz has averaged 86.7 mph on his fastball in the majors this season, down from 89.9 mph last season. The good news is that he sat in the 88-89 mph range during his complete-game shutout last week and topped out at 91 mph.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.