To say the 2011 Baltimore Orioles had a disappointing season would be an understatement. Although no one was picking the Birds to win the AL East, most people thought that they would take a step towards a .500 record. For the 14th straight year, that didn't happen.
There was tragedy off the field with the death of Mike Flanagan and it looks like the Andy MacPhail era is coming to an end in the front office.
All wasn't terrible for the Orioles, however. Adam Jones, Matt Weiters and J.J. Hardy, among others, all had fine seasons.
To close out the year, the Birds helped eliminate the Boston Red Sox from the postseason contention.
But, to me, the story of 2011 was the dramatic decline of pitcher Brian Matusz.
Matusz, the Orioles first-round pick 2008, finished the 2010 season with a 7-1 record and looked like he was ready to emerge as one of the top left-handed starters in the AL.
Hopes were high for him.
Unfortunately, this season turned out to be an absolute disaster for Matusz.
He started the year on the DL and missed two months. When he did return, he was horrible.
Plagued by a loss of velocity and poor location, Matusz finished 2011 with a 1-9 record and his 10.69 ERA was the worst ever by a starting pitcher with 10 or more starts in a season.
Matusz himself admitted that he wasn't in the best of shape and his perfomance helped prove that.
The loss of pace off his fastball has everyone baffled. Both the Orioles and Matusz say that he isn't hurt.
The 86 MPH heater says otherwise.
Whatever the reason, both sides need to figure out a way to fix the problems. This is the future ace of the staff we're talking about.
Over the course of one year, Brian Matusz has gone from the stud of your rotation to a giant question mark moving forward.
That is unaccepable.
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