Throwing slider with confidence a key to Matusz's success

Posted: June 8, 2012 at 3:19 am

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The Orioles will send their hottest pitcher left-hander Brian Matusz to the mound tonight with the opportunity to sweep the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Yes, Matusz, who entered the season possessing the longest personal losing streak in baseball, seems to have things figured out of late.

Matusz (5-5), who is going for his fifth win in his past six starts, is 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA and hes coming off his best outing of the season, a season-high 7 1/3-inning start at Tampa Bay in which he allowed just two hits and one run while striking out seven. His outing Saturday was his longest in nearly 22 months, when he threw eight innings against the Rangers on Aug. 19, 2010.

The 25-year-old left-hander is also using his pitches effectively. Despite issuing three walks Saturday, he didnt labor deep into counts, allowing his 97 pitches get him into the eighth inning.

Hes using his slider effectively 22 of his 29 sliders were strikes in his last outing -- especially a backdoor slider that starts outside to right-handed hitters then enters the zone at the last minute.

Rays hitters swung at his slider 19 times and missed 10 times for a 52.6 swing-and-miss percentage (compared to a 29 percentage on the season).

Its been really big for me, especially since my change-up has been a little inconsistent, so to be able to have that, its been nice, Matusz said. Its just throwing them in the right count. I dont know how many of those sliders were down out of the zone, that started as strikes and ended up being down. Its just depending on the situation and the count and where I want to go with it.

Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair said Matusz showed a lot of confidence using his backdoor slider as an out pitch. Adair has also been impressed with Matuszs ability to throw the sliders at different speeds, with his slider that starts over the plate and breaks down and in to right-handed batters coming in with more velocity.

Hes done a tremendous job with that, Adair said.

Getting a feel for his breaking pitches has also allowed Matusz to get more ground ball outs. Over his past five starts, he owns an impressive 1.04 groundball-to-flyball ratio.

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Throwing slider with confidence a key to Matusz's success

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June 8th, 2012 at 3:19 am

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