Matusz Makes Home Debut with Frederick

Brian Matusz struggled with his control in the first inning, but managed to get through five more after that. The lefty displayed all four of his pitches (fastball, change, curve, slider) and threw them all effectively Sunday. Inside, find out what Matusz believes he needs to do to take his game to the next level.

Brian Matusz made his home debut Sunday at Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, setting career highs in innings pitched (six) and strikeouts (eight), but was tagged with the loss against the Salem Red Sox.

Matusz got into trouble early after Salem's Che-Hsuan Lin reached on an error to start the game. Matusz fell behind the next three Salem batters and by the time the top of the first was over the Keys trailed 3-0.

Matusz gave up a single to second baseman Aaron Reza, an RBI double to Ryan Kalish and was finally able to record the first out of the inning on a run-scoring groundout from Jason Place. The next batter, Luis Exposito then connected for a sacrifice fly to left to cap off the scoring. Only one the three runs were earned.

"My main focus has been fastball location, getting ahead early with the fastball, really trying to establish that fastball" Matusz said. "And that's something I feel like I haven't been able to do since I've been out here in Frederick, and that's get ahead with the fastball like I should."

Matusz was able to settle down and get through six innings on 96 pitches (69 strikes, 27 balls). His biggest problem throughout the game was pitching with two outs. His only one-two-three inning came in the fourth when he got a much-needed double play to end the inning, which only took six total pitches to complete.

Matusz said that he had been over-pitching, speeding up too much and that today he wanted to slow down a little bit and really work on each pitch. He understands that he has a lot of work to do before he can get to the show.

"One thing I've been doing, I've been walking a lot of guys," Matusz explained. "That's something I typically haven't been doing in the past. Once again, it's something you can't think about, just gotta make pitch-by-pitch and really establish that fastball."

Things were rolling along smoothly for Matusz and it looked like he was going to complete six innings in a hurry. He got the first two outs on two pitches, but could not get help from his defense. Salem's Kristopher Negron lined a ball to right field but Billy Rowell got a bad read. The ball sailed over his head.

Right after that the Red Sox right-fielder Matt Sheely grounded a ball to Matt Tucker at second and he threw the ball out of play allowing the third unearned run of the game to score.

Keys' manager Richie Hebner summed up Matusz's performance perfectly.

"He threw good, but his pitch count was a little high," Hebner said. Matusz threw 25 pitches in the first inning and 22 in the third.

Matusz, who was restricted to working on his fastball during parts of the spring, was able to throw all of his pitches today. He showed good life on his fastball, which he said he has been throwing between 90-93 miles per hour. He also said his changeup has been his best pitch for him thus far, but was able to strike out most of the eight victims today with his slider. The curve was also thrown for strikes, something Matusz said he had trouble doing in his first two starts.

With all that said, he is a young lefty with good velocity and pretty good command. When he rushes things, which he admits he has been doing, he has trouble throwing strikes. His four pitches are all major league average or better and he showed that he could throw all of them for strikes in any given count. However, Matusz also displayed that he is not quite ready for the big leagues.

"You can't make the big leagues on one outing," Matusz said. "You need to work on things, get better, work on every little thing that I've been doing wrong, even things that I've been doing well. I need to continue working on that and getting better from a day-to-day basis. I need to get that out of my head; you can't make the big leagues on one pitch, one outing."


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