2015 Orioles preview: Brian Matusz

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With Opening Day now only days away, we continue to take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.

March 9 – Adam Jones
March 10 – Chris Tillman
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Zach Britton
March 13 – Chris Davis
March 14 – Wei-Yin Chen
March 15 – Jonathan Schoop
March 16 – Travis Snider
March 17 – Kevin Gausman
March 18 – Alejandro De Aza
March 19 – Tommy Hunter
March 20 – Manny Machado
March 21 – Brad Brach
March 22 – Steve Pearce
March 23 – Darren O’Day
March 24 – Caleb Joseph
March 25 – Wesley Wright
March 26 – Delmon Young
March 27 – Miguel Gonzalez
March 28 – Ryan Flaherty
March 29 – Ubaldo Jimenez
March 30 – Everth Cabrera
March 31 – Bud Norris
April 1 – Matt Wieters
April 2 – Jimmy Paredes

LHP Brian Matusz

Opening Day age: 28

Contract status: Under club control through the 2016 season

Minor-league options remaining: None

2014 stats: 2-3, 3.48 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 9.2 K/IP, 7 HR, 51 2/3 innings

Why to be impressed: Even if Matusz never lived up to the potential of being a first-round pick in 2008, he’s carved out a nice role as a lefty specialist with a career 3.26 ERA pitching in relief and struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings while holding lefties to a .223 average in 2014. The southpaw was stretched out this spring, posting an exceptional 1.88 ERA and striking out 12 in 14 1/3 innings of work to draw interest from other clubs.

Why to be concerned: A $3.2 million salary is less than ideal for a reliever who surrendered an .876 on-base plus slugging percentage against right-handed hitters a year ago. With a crowded bullpen that now includes fellow lefty Wesley Wright, Matusz doesn’t possess as much value to manager Buck Showalter considering he is often used for only a batter or two.

2015 outlook: It’s no secret that the Orioles shopped Matusz all spring with the New York Mets appearing to be a potential suitor before they ultimately turned elsewhere for left-handed relief help. Matusz now appears more likely to begin the regular season in Baltimore, but the decision to tender him a contract this winter remains a puzzling one as the organization tries to figure out what to do with a surplus of bullpen arms. If he sticks around, Matusz is good for an ERA around 3.50 in which he gets the best of left-handed hitters and is kept away from righty sluggers as much as possible.