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Brian Matusz proved the Orioles should never again let him face a righty, or a lefty

After Brian Matusz's 2014 campaign with the Orioles, Mark has had just about enough of him.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Matusz is both lucky and unfortunate that he was the #4 overall draft pick. He's lucky because that kind of pedigree means he will end up getting more chances than his performance warrants. At the same time, it's unlucky for Matusz; if it wasn't for the crushing baggage of top-of-the-rotation expectations that he failed to live up to even a tiny little bit, his career arc wouldn't seem like such a catastrophe.

This was the second full season in the bullpen for Matusz. His identity as a reliever became clear through the year: a LOOGY (lefty one out guy) who should not face right-handed batters under any circumstance. With an OPS against for lefties of .626 and righties of .876, that tells the story of Matusz. It is not a good story.

What's even worse for Matusz is the way that these OPS numbers deteriorated compared to the year before. In 2013, he held lefties to a .502 OPS while righties hit him for a .747 OPS. Despite this, he shaved a fraction off of his ERA, dropping from a 3.53 to a 3.48. He did this somehow while losing a mile per hour on all of his pitches compared to what he was throwing in 2013.

With a reliever, you always have to be careful of judging the small sample size. It's an impulse I try to resist, but Matusz makes it diffficult at times. Some of the greatest hits among his statistics this year include much worse numbers with men on than the bases empty, worse in tie games than games where the Orioles were playing behind, and worse in what Baseball Reference terms High Leverage situations than in any other situation.

On the other hand, his year is the tale of two bad months: April and July. Outside of those two months, he only allowed five earned runs in 32 innings. That's not so bad. It's a lot harder to count on someone late in a game when you can't predict their performance, though. That's especially true when he doesn't even deliver every time against lefties like David Ortiz, which felt like it was his entire purpose for a while there.

No wonder he got shoved down the chart when Andrew Miller, who could get out both handed hitters, arrived. When he's bad, he just looks so bad. I suppose that's true for everyone.

Owing to the fact that Matusz was so promising once, he actually signed a major league deal when he was drafted in 2008. That's made it tougher for the Orioles to deal with him in the present. He is out of minor league options and his arbitration salaries have begun from a higher base than the major league minimum. He's projected by MLBTR to get a $2.7 million salary for 2014.

Is it worth spending that money, and a roster spot, on a LOOGY who can't be optioned, whose ability to get out left-handed batters may not even be as good as it was?

His first and only 2014 playoff appearance, where he allowed a two-run home run to a left-handed batter in ALCS Game 1, which the Orioles lost by two runs, says it all. Mike Moustakas hit for a .554 OPS against lefties and a .632 OPS overall in 2014. That didn't stop Matusz from serving up a crucial homer that turned a bad situation into a disaster. It was not even the first time that Matusz allowed a home run in extra innings in the playoffs to a lefty. Forever shall we curse the name of Raul Ibanez.

If it was up to me, Matusz would be dumped like a load of spice at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser. Dan Duquette gets paid to be a bit more rational than that. It's not the Duquette way to give up something for nothing. Maybe he thinks there is still value in Matusz with the team, or maybe he'll get swapped for someone with slightly more potential. Probably to the Cubs, where he will then win a Cy Young award, because that's how these things go.

If he does end up staying with the Orioles, his 2014 was such that I will never be able to summon a good feeling any time he heads into the game from the bullpen, not even if he goes up against a batter who is warmed over death against lefties. Now that he has completely zeroed out even any modest hopes I might have had, perhaps I can finally be pleasantly surprised by his performance.