Brian Matusz and Jerome Williams both shined on the mound on Tuesday night.
The Tuesday Takeaway
When Jerome Williams threw his first complete-game shutout on June 27, 2003 against the Athletics, he was a hotshot 21-year-old seven starts into a promising career. When Brian Matusz last won a game on October 2, 2010, he was a 23-year-old blue-chipper capping off a stellar second half.
Coming into their outings on Monday, no one could have predicted that both of those runs would end on the same night. Williams had worked into the eighth inning of a start just once since returning to the majors last summer. Matusz had lost 12 straight decisions and had to do battle with a Yankees lineup ready to feast after a frustrating two-run effort the previous night. But they did.
Orioles starter Brian Matusz followed his disastrous 2011 season with a successful 2012 spring training, but do we really know anything more about him than we did a month ago?
The day I begin to believe Brian Matusz's major-league career is over is a hot, slick, late August afternoon in Brooklyn. A friend and I have just finished moving a refrigerator into my apartment and are now returning the Zipcar he rented in Park Slope, and as he drives, I have my phone tuned to the audio feed of the last game the Baltimore Orioles would play that season in the state of California—a Sunday matinee pitting the Orioles' Brian Matusz against Jerome Williams of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
In late August, the Angels still have something to play for: they're only four games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West and only three games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card hunt. They don't know it yet, but their fortunes won’t improve; they'll play slightly better than .500 ball through the first few weeks of September, but slightly better than .500 ball doesn't catch the hottest team in the league—Texas would go 19-6 in September 2011—or the Rays, who have taken to hunting the Boston Red Sox like 25 light-hitting Ahabs. This Sunday afternoon, though, the Angels' season still has a glimmer of hope, even if it is just a trick of the light.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.