Matt Moore took a no decision against the Tigers by giving up two earned runs, five walks and four hits while striking out four. The big blow to the rookie was a 3-2 fastball that he left up in the zone to Austin Jackson which was hammered over the left-field fence to tie the game. That pitch, which was his 105th of the outing, would be his last of the day.
At first glance of the box score it's easy to get discouraged by the five walks, 55.7 strike percentage and an underwhelming four punchouts from a guy that had eye-popping K numbers out of the bullpen last year and in his MiLB stint. There's really no chance he'll have the 10.8 K/9 he posted in his short period as a reliever and the ridiculous 12.1 K/9 he had in the minors. He should still be one of the better pitchers in the AL in strikeouts though.
Why? Moore showed decent command of his fast ball and was aggressive with the Detroit lineup. His four-seam fastball topped out at 96 MPH and settled in at a sizzling 93 MPH. As expected, he leaned on that pitch a lot by throwing it 83 times (78.3 percent). His next most popular pitch was the changeup which had had great success with as well by throwing it for a strike 72 percent of the time. If Moore can command his his changeup, AL hitters are going to be in some hot water.
The rest on Mr. Moore after the jump:
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Another interesting aspect of Matt Moore's outing was the 13:3 flyball:groundball ratio. There's really no need to be alarmed here with most of those flyballs being of the routine variety. In fact six of those 13 didn't even leave the infield.
As eluded to in the lead paragraph, Moore had some tough times against Austin Jackson. Jackson got to a full count on all four ABs which resulted in two walks, a strikeout and that aforementioned game-tying tater. On a side note, Jackson has a great approach this year and I'm not selling high on his fantastic start.
Moore also had some trouble getting Brennan Boesch out as well. B-Squared hit two hard-hit balls to right field off Moore even though they were located down in the zone. So with A-Jax and Boesch having an OBP of .714, one would think the Thundercats of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera would have been trouble. Moore actually had it wrapped like Mumm-Ra (see what I did there?). He didn't allow a hit to either, had an unintentional walk to each and also gave Miggy a free pass after falling behind 2-0.
As the game went on it was becoming more and more apparent that Moore is a pitcher, and not just a guy stays in the upper 90s like a dude that's still rockin' parachute pants. He was starting guys off with plenty of off-speed stuff with changeups and breaking pitches. He was coming inside on lefties, which can be treacherousness, but it didn't come back to bite him thanks to the confidence in his stuff.
The bottom line is that Moore owners should feel pretty good on the outing. The Tigers put up 26 runs against Boston's top-three starts and Detroit also put up a three spot in the eighth after Moore left today. He pitched in the snow in 42-degree weather and had some serious pressure coming into this game as the first outing since signing his five-year, $14 million deal. Plus, his delivery isn't one that should cause trepidation since it's one of the smoothest around (that's what she said). Moore is still my pick for the AL Rookie of the Year and today's outing only makes me more confident in that notion. He should be an SP2 for your fantasy team with the ceiling to be your ace.