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Your Team Needs Something Moore

Matt Moore just came out from his worst outing of the season, and it gives us the perfect opportunity buy him low. The 26-year-old lefty is full of untapped potential, and why can't this year be his breakout season?

Moore is more than an exciting name.
Moore is more than an exciting name.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The former number 2 overall BA Ranked prospect, the flaming throwing lefty Matt Moore's comeback story was a hot issue in the opening month. Even if you liked him, his stock had appreciated too much from the draft day that you were probably out of luck to acquire his service.

Now Moore is giving you another chance. He got completely shattered by the punch-less Dodgers lineup last Tuesday with 7 runs in 4.1 IP. If you happened to watch the game, you know that it was even uglier outing than the line suggested. He constantly gave up walks or hanging breaking balls right down the middle after 0-2 counts. He didn't seem to have any effective weapon to finish up the batters even with very generous strike calls (his counterpart Scott Kazmir certainly benefitted from the pitcher friendly zone and finished the game with season high 9 K).

Right now he owns 4.95 ERA in his 6 starts. His 4.17 FIP and .286 BABIP is saying that his current struggle is not a luck-related issue. Indeed, he is a career 3.91 ERA pitcher who never lived up to his hype. We have seen him battling to locate the zone numerous times, so I wouldn't blame you if you don't want any part of him.

Nevertheless, he is doing at least one thing right, and it is indeed a very important one: Velocity. He is currently averaging 93 mph in his fastball after failing to hit 92 in his last two seasons. With his improved velocity, his K-rate is back up to 9.17 K/9, which looks very similar to 8.9 K/9 he put up during his first three years as a pro. Despite his current underachieving performance, his elbow looks fresh at 26.

K-rate is an easy one, and you probably didn't need my help to figure out that part. Most of you are probably (and should be) worried about his control. His current 2.48 BB/9 isn't the most trustworthy part of his stats. His career BB/9 is 3.99, and he just proved in his last outing that he can still get very wild time to time. Regardless of his current solid K-BB, he is not a control artist, and it's very reasonable for us to expect his BB/9 to creep up throughout the season.

In fact, a lot of his swing/contact% suggest that he is replicating his 2012 numbers, the year he threw 94.4 mph fastball. Apparently that was Moore's career high season with 3.81 ERA and 8.88 K/9 in 177.1 IP, but he still put up ugly 4.11 BB/9. At this point, I can pretty much wrap up this article by saying, "You should expect Moore to replicate his 2012 season. His walk rate will be back up soon but his elite K-rate can still help your team."




























Pitch F/X data from Fangraphs

I want to go little deeper though. If he is exactly the same pitcher from 2012, how come his current BB rate is much lower? As you can see above, the hitters are swinging and making contacts exactly at the same rate in both years. How can we explain same contacts, same K, but lower BB? It simply means that those former BBs have turned into in-plays, and those in-plays are resulted from less fouls from contacts. It makes sense since even with his improved fastballs, he isn't throwing 94.4 like back in 2012, and slower pitches are less likely to get fouled.

In baseball, we often see many flamethrowers with more BB but less hit, and now Moore is giving up more hits in exchange for walks as his velocity has declined. The impressive part is, however, that Moore is still maintaining high Swinging Strike % and high K/9 numbers. The even better part is that those more in-plays are actually turning into grounders. He is locating more pitches at the lower part of the zone, which helped to increase his groundball% from 37.4% to 43.3%. According to the Pitch F/X, Moore's fastball is currently showing the best movement in his career, and that could be an explanation for all his improvement this year.


2012 Heatmap

2016 Matt More Heatmap

2016 Heatmap

Obviously we are talking about 6 starts to the season, so this all could simply be a result from the small sample size. But this is the guy who we all know about his substantial talent to be successful in the league. He is finally healthy after the TJ surgery, and he is still 26 years old (And don't forget the Rays organization's successful track record with young pitchers. This team knows how to train those kids). Fantasy Sports is a game about capturing the upside earlier than your peers, and Moore can bring you that upside. He is owned only 45% of the Yahoo! league, and even if he isn't available in your league, he can't be expensive after his horrendous start. Moore was kind enough to give you one more window to buy him low, so don't miss it.

Rest of the Season Steamer Projection

SP Rank