As of yesterday afternoon the Orioles weren’t sure what to do with Brian Matusz, but they’ve now decided to bump the struggling left-hander from the rotation and have him work exclusively out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
Matusz has followed up an impressive rookie season by going 1-7 with a 9.84 ERA this year, allowing more home runs per nine innings than anyone else in baseball history with at least 10 starts.
Buck Showalter explained the decision to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com:
There are two sides to it. I’m a father first. I don’t like to see anybody get beat up on. I don’t think that Brian is at a point right now where he can defend himself properly. It’s not going to be a matter of him throwing 94 or 93 miles per hour. He can pitch just like he is, stuff-wise. It’s just command issues and repeating his delivery and a lot of things he’s aware of. I feel for him, but not to the point where … he knows nobody is going to feel sorry for him in that other clubhouse. He’s got it. He understands a lot more than what people may perceive about what’s going on.
In other words, the Orioles don’t think Matusz is capable of getting big-league hitters out at this point and there’s no sense in letting him serve up batting practice to a salivating lineup every fifth day.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.