There was a time, not long ago, that Brian Matusz was a thing. He was the top-ranked pitching prospect in the Orioles system. While that may qualify as “tallest midget” status in many respects, Matusz was legit. Keith Law ranked him 11th ahead of the 2010 season ($), ahead of such luminaries as Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson and twitter boyfriend Logan Morrison.

Matusz did not disappoint in 2010, putting together a solid 2+ WAR season, making 32 starts with respectable numbers across the board as a 23 year-old. Hopes were high. Until 2011 happened.

Matusz went to pieces in 2011. His strikeouts dropped, his walks increased and he gave up home run after home run. Then, he gave up some more home runs, 18 total in just 49 big league innings across twelve starts. It was a disaster. It was the OriLOLes.

Now Matusz is back in camp trying to put it all together again. The enivitable Roy Halladay comparisons fly after Matusz usurped the two-time Cy Young winner as the guy with the worst single-season ERA in league history. Matusz hasn’t undergone the radical transformation of the former Jays ace – he is just a guy trying to start over.

After two very successful spring starts, there is increasing belief in Matusz. He threw four shutout innings against the Tigers A-lineup yesterday (the game was in Lakeland), striking out six without walking a single batter. Matusz touched 93 and featured a wide variety of off-speed offerings, claims Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. It was the Orioles lefty’s second straight scoreless outing, following up on another four inning performance against the Phillies.

All teasing aside, the Orioles seemed to have quite the pitching staff built until, one by one, they all fell by the wayside. If Matusz can rediscover the form that placed him so high on so many lists and Dylan Bundy turns out to be as good as everyone thinks, maybe there won’t be LOLs in Baltimore any more.

And the Rest

Dee Gordon is a sneaky one. [Deadspin]

Great excerpt from the new BP book Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers, Christina Kahrl on the Strikeout Era [Baseball Prospectus]

Chris St. John on the warning signs that are the “just enough” home run count. [The Platoon Advantage]

Getting Blanked facebook friend Leigh goes all Edvard Munch on Bryce Harper. It is amazing.

You, too, can like Getting Blanked on Facebook and get into all this good stuff. [Facebook]

Following up on the “Just Enough” work, Bill Petti on the impact of hitters changing parks. [Fangraphs]

The Cubs want to focus on defense. The Cubs probably need better players. [Chicago Sun Times]

The Royals extend Alcides Escobar. YOU COULD BE NEXT! [MLBTR]

Cool interview with Nick Leyva on infield positioning. Read this while replaying “Under My Thumb” in your head. [Fangraphs again]

Follow Getting Blanked on twitter. It is good for your health. [Twitter]

It is Friday. Enjoy Scottish people in the sun.