Matusz Injury Could Change Britton’s Time Frame

8:43pm: Connolly reports that Matusz has been placed on the disabled list and could miss anywhere from three to six weeks (Twitter links). Britton will be called up and start on Sunday.

8:21pm: The Orioles received some bad news before their first game of the season this evening, as young lefty Brian Matusz will miss tomorrow's start with an injury to the intercostal muscle on the left side of his back. Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun caught up with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who indicated that the injury could accelerate the team's timetable for top prospect Zach Britton.

"It could depending on what kind of news we get [about Matsuz] and how long term we’re looking," said MacPhail. "I was hoping [the injury] was an April Fool's joke."

As Tim Dierkes explained a week ago, the Orioles will have to wait until April 21st to call Britton up if they want to delay his free agency by a year. The 23-year-old southpaw was named the 28th best prospect in the game by Baseball America before the season, and they said he owns the "best sinker in the minor leagues" in the 2011 edition of their Prospect Handbook.

Britton split last season between Double and Triple-A, pitching to a 2.70 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9, though he generated 2.8 ground outs for every fly out. He also opened eyes with a stellar showing in Spring Training. Chris Tillman will start in Matusz's place on Saturday.

11 Responses to Matusz Injury Could Change Britton’s Time Frame Leave a Reply

  1. Charles Tetrick 4 years ago

    This is somewhat bad news cause they lose the extra year on Britton. But I am excited to get to see him pitch this Sunday.

  2. I see them most likely extending him at some point anyway.

    • OrangeCards 4 years ago

      Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. The kid has yet to make a start in the majors.

      • CaseyBlakeDeWitt 4 years ago

        Didn’t stop the Rays from extending Longoria.

        • OrangeCards 4 years ago

          Yeah, but Evan had actually played a week in the majors and it was considered an extremely rare signing.

          Zach Britton is represented by Scott Boras, so even if they’re able to negotiate an extension, losing this year of service time will affect the length and dollars of said extension.

  3. quintjs 4 years ago

    He has to stick at the major level level from now on to get the service time right?

    Do we honestly expect that to happen? In the AL East? Lester didn’t, nor Hughes or Buchholz, Price went down to the minors after his bullpen work.

    All they need to do is send him back down for a couple of months when Matusz gets back and its problem soveld.

    And he will have some rough patches this year that they can use to send him down. He will struggle.

    And that makes it the best of both worlds, he gets some exposure, but doesn’t get enough service time, so when he comes back up he is prepared and better able to deliever, ala the players I mentioned above and that were not scrubs.

  4. RobMor 4 years ago

    Here is a thought, say Britton comes up and pitches better than Tillman and or Arrieta, what happens when Matusz comes off the DL? I certainly understand wanting to send him down for 20 days so we get that extra year or control but the Orioles will get roasted by fans and media people alike if they do.

    Orioles have some talented young pitches so its very possible Britton out pitches Tillman / Arrieta during the next month and a half. IF Tillman goes 1-3 with a 5.75 ERA while Britton goes 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA, you are going to have a hard time justifying to people that Britton needs more time in Triple A while keeping Tillman on the ML roster.

    • NatsTown 4 years ago

      very interesting what they do because Britton is better than both Arrieta and Tillman

      • grownice 4 years ago

        How is he already better without ever pitching in the MLB?

        • NatsTown 4 years ago

          better stuff, better overall pitcher. a lefty sinkerballer who also strikes people out with great makeup. By your logic, last year Rodrigo Lopez was a better pitcher than Strasburg before he was called up

    • birdbrass190 4 years ago

      well remember the orioles have only a 4 man rotation right now so theoretically if Britton does well they can keep everyone, and send down a positon player instead

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