Rookie pitchers are supposed to wilt in the dog days of summer. Evidently, the Orioles' Brian Matusz and the D-backs' Daniel Hudson didn't get the memo. The two young arms were chosen as the Gillette presents Rookie of the Month winners in their respective leagues.
Matusz, Baltimore's first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft (No. 4 overall), had his best month on the mound in what's been a very up-and-down first full season. The lefty went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA, leading all rookie arms in the American League in wins, innings pitched (37) and strikeouts (26). Matusz held hitters to a .241 batting average over his six starts in the month, reeling off three straight wins to close it out against playoff contenders in the Rangers, White Sox and Red Sox.
Five of Matusz's starts came against teams with a winning record (Rays, Rangers, Red Sox and White Sox twice). Taking out his one loss for the month -- a four-inning, five-run clunker vs. Tampa Bay -- Matusz had a 1.36 ERA in his other five outings. Matusz's resurgence was a big part of the renaissance in Baltimore, with the Orioles going 17-11 in August. The young staff was a big part of it, as it finished second in the AL with a 3.38 ERA for the month.
"To be strong at this point in the season is what you want to do, because years to come when we are in the playoff race, this is when you want to be your strongest," said Matusz. "Fortunately, I've been able to string together some good outings and stay strong. It's a matter of staying healthy and continuing to push and work hard and finish off the year good."
Up all year, the lefty has paced all AL rookie pitchers this season with 27 starts, 150 2/3 innings pitched and 117 strikeouts. He's second with a .269 BAA and third with seven wins.
Hudson is still relatively new to the National League. Sent from the White Sox to the D-backs on July 30 in the Edwin Jackson deal, the right-hander hit the ground running in his Arizona debut on Aug. 1. Hudson, who made a mercurial climb in 2009 from Class A ball all the way up to the big leagues in the White Sox system, went eight innings and allowed just one run on three hits for the win.
He didn't let up from there, finishing with a 4-1 record and 1.85 ERA over six starts for the month. The 2008 fifth-round Draft pick was even good in his lone loss, giving up three earned runs on nine hits and no walks while striking out a career-high 10 in a tough-luck defeat against the Reds on Aug. 17. Hudson went at least seven innings in all six of his starts, allowing three runs or fewer in all of them.
For the season -- including his three starts with the White Sox prior to the trade -- Hudson is 5-2 with a 3.03 ERA in nine starts. He made his Major League debut in 2009, and now has a career line of 6-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 78 total innings.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.