Pitcher No. 1: Matt Moore (Rays vs. Twins, Friday)
After blowing through the competition in a small sample spanning the end of the regular season and postseason last year, Matt Moore entered the 2012 season with a great deal of hype. However, he’s going to have to harness his stuff if he’s going to reach his ceiling; Moore is throwing a very high percentage of his pitches "up" in the zone ... and it’s not surprising he’s had issues with the long ball because of that.
Pitcher No. 2: Stephen Strasburg (Nationals vs. Marlins, Saturday)
Through two starts this season, the trend of Strasburg's velocity dipping has continued. When he first came up, he succeeded with fastballs approaching 100 mph and a changeup around 90.
However, since his return from Tommy John surgery, he seems to be evolving into more of a "pitcher." His fastball velocity is down over 2 mph, but his changeup is also down nearly the exact same amount, keeping the separation between the two pitches.
Pitcher No. 3: Brian Matusz (Orioles at Angels, Friday)
It has been a remarkable fall-from-grace for Orioles lefty Brian Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft -- ahead of players like Buster Posey, Brett Lawrie and Ike Davis and one spot behind Eric Hosmer. Unfortunately, the wheels have completely come off for Matusz, who has not won a game since June 6, 2011. When Matusz takes the mound this weekend, he will attempt to avoid going 0-12 over a 13-start stretch. The last pitcher to do that was Edgar Gonzalez from 2004-06.
Matusz has not gone seven innings in a start since Sept. 27, 2010. Part of the reason for his extended slump has been a lack of life on his fastball. After his average fastball velocity bottomed out at 86.6 mph in June of last season, it has steadily risen (to 90.7 so far in April after 89.0 in August and 89.8 in September). Unfortunately, it’s still not generating much success.
Pitcher No. 4: Kyle Drabek (Blue Jays at Royals, Friday)
Not long ago, Drabek was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Last season, however, Drabek completely fell apart, posting one of the highest walk rates in baseball and generally inefficient with his pitches. While the small sample size caveat applies, he looks like a completely different pitcher so far. What has been the difference? Pitching effectively with his fastball.