Game 39: Orioles (24-14) @ Royals (15-21), 2:10pm

He won't have Matt Wieters to calm him down today, but Brian Matusz needs to demonstrate that he might some day be a decent pitcher again anyway. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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It's a businessman's special for the Orioles today, which is appropriate because they need to take care of business against their hosts, the Royals. Note that I am not sure any businessman in Kansas City would want to play hooky in order to be caught with the mobs of school children attending the game as part of School Trip Day, which is also happening today.

There is one reason why the O's need to win today's game, and that reason is Luke Hochevar. Once the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Hochevar has just never lived up to that billing. He was supposed to be the polished, college pick. Now 28 years old, he's thrown 620.2 innings in MLB and has a 5.39 career ERA. Orioles fans may lament what might have been with someone other than Billy Rowell being drafted that round, but it's got to be even worse for Royals fans, who can look at the same players that tantalize O's fans in addition to Evan Longoria and Clayton Kershaw.

What is Hochevar's problem? He's got a 7.20 ERA so far in 2012 and is only averaging 5 innings per start. On the other hand, his FIP is nearly half of his ERA: at 3.69, one wonders whether he suffers from bad luck or whether it's what I like to call Chris Tillman Syndrome, where he has a high BABIP because his stuff is sub-par and it's easier (relative to other MLB pitchers) for baseballs to be hit hard to places where defenders are not standing or cannot dive or run.

The destiny of Brian Matusz in May has been to face off against fellow under-performing starting pitchers. In matching up against Hochevar today, he will be continuing that trend. I have no idea what to say about Matusz any more. We may have established that he is less terrible than he was last year, but with a 5.50 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP, he's not exactly in contention for the Cy Young award either. Matusz is walking a fair number of guys, and also giving up a lot of hits, though blessedly, his HR/9 rate is down to 1.19, which, don't get me wrong, still sucks. That rate just sucks a heck of a lot less than last year's 3.26. Trying to predict what we will see out of Matusz on a given day, or ever, is a pointless endeavor. I think it's fair to say that if Matusz was going to be able to flash a sign to us that he may again be decent some day, he would need to do it against this Royals team.

It is May 17 and the Orioles enter today's game tied for first place in the American League East. Pointing that out will never stop being awesome to me.



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