I thought I would check out the Durham Bulls as they opened their final home stand of the year Tuesday against the Norfolk Tides. The main drawing card was starting pitcher Matt Moore and I can honestly say, count me impressed. Moore was not dominant but he was very close. He consistently threw in the mid 90’s and he got a lot of swings and misses on both his fastball and his changeup. Of the 92 pitches Moore threw Tuesday night, 61 of them were strikes.
What I liked the most was his ability to make pitches in tough situations. He allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in each of the first three innings and he allowed at least one base runner in every inning he pitched. But, in his six innings he allowed no runs and only one runner
even made it to third base. He had six strikeouts on the night and four of those came with runners on base. Moore has struck out 63 in just 40 2/3 innings since his call up to Durham and is third in all of minor league baseball with 194 on the season.
Moore left the game in the sixth with a 4-0 lead. The Durham bullpen allowed two run homers in the seventh and the eighth innings and eventually lost the game in the thirteenth. I was disappointed in the performance of the pitchers the Bulls used in relief but that didn’t come close to taking the shine off of what I saw in Matt Moore. As far as no decisions go, that was a pretty good one.
Just being moved up to Durham from Double A Montgomery in the last month, it is highly unlikely Moore would see the field in Tampa this year. The Rays have a consistent approach with their young arms and they are very careful in the workload that they see. It would be exciting if the Rays found themselves a little closer to a playoff spot. Would they consider bringing up Moore for some relief duty a la David Price in his first Rays action?
The Rays definitely won’t do anything to jeopardize the long term future of a top flight pitching prospect and the Bulls hope to have him in the rotation for a playoff run of their own. They have a four and a half game lead on the Gwinnet Braves with 14 games left in the regular season. Moore is 3-0 since being called up and has an ERA under one. He figures to be a key contributor down the stretch and into the International League playoffs. Bulls General Manager Mike Birling has commented before about the importance of having a guy that can go get you a win in the first game of a short playoff series. It looks like Matt Moore could be that guy.