Matt Moore Return Affects Rays Chances

By on July 1, 2015

 

EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO

Matt Moore in a rehab start in June for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in Dunedin vs.the Blue Jays. EDDIE MICHELS PHOTO

It’s been nearly 15 months since Matt Moore pitched in a major league game. He last appeared on April 7, 2014. A partially torn UCL cut his 2014 campaign short, after only two starts. The Rays decided to shut him down, opting for surgery rather than attempting to rehab the ulnar collateral ligament. In related news, they used a different approach for Drew Smyly after suffering a torn labrum.

Rookie manager Kevin Cash could not have predicted his inaugural season would go this way. His team leads the majors in number of rookies used. The Rays have used 16 rookies so far this season, several of which are making major contributions.Steven Souza Jr., Joey Butler, Nathan Karns, Matt Andriese, Alex Colome, and Steve Geltz sit atop their list of productive rookies. Certainly Cash has to be thrilled with the performance of his young team; currently they are in first place (42-37) in the American League East.

So, the question must be asked. Will the return of Matt Moore be a good thing for the team, or will it hurt the team chemistry?

Numbers Game:

The issue with Matt Moore has been consistency and walks. In 2013, his all-star season, only six pitchers in the American League allowed more free-passes. Moore walked 86 batters. He also posted the second highest BB/9 ratio (4.55). Only LucasHarrell (5.15), of the Astros, had a higher number of walks allowed per nine innings pitched. This was in a season where he received Cy Young consideration; he finished ninth.

His 17 wins were without question his biggest contribution to the Rays. But remember, wins are completely subjective. They rely heavily on the number of runs a team scores. The bad news for the Rays is that they have scored the third fewest runs in the AL (286 – 3.6/game).

Moore also needs to work on his consistency. One-third of his 27 starts in 2013 were scoreless outings. That is great news for the optimistic readers out there. For the pessimistic followers, he had six starts where he allowed four or more runs. Four runs is not terrible, however, especially if you are pitching deep into games. Matt Moore is not. In fact, he managed to reach seven innings pitched in just five games. That’s it! In a season where he won 17 games, was mentioned in the Cy Young conversation, and had nine outings where he did not allow a single run; he pitched into the eighth inning only five times.

Bottom Line:

Matt Moore will help the Rays’ run for their fourth division title in eight years, but if he can’t regain some level of consistency, there is a possibility that his return will hurt the Rays.

If the Rays are going to continue their pitching success, things need to change. They cannot sustain this pace if they don’t take some pressure off of the bullpen. Their relief pitchers have logged significantly more innings (267.1 IP) than any other team throughout the majors. The Rays bullpen tops the Red Sox bullpen by 14.2 IP.  The addition of Matt Moore to the rotation will not decrease bullpen workload. Kevin Cash and pitching coach Jim Hickey will be monitoring his pitch counts closely. Matt Andriese appears to be the odd man out for now.

Surely there is plenty to look forward to with the return of the former All-Star. Moore makes his 2015 debut on Thursday afternoon against the Cleveland Indians.

Story by Kris Dunn. Follow @KrisDunnDV on Twitter.

 

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