For much of the 2012 season, the pitching staff of the Tampa Bay Rays has kept them afloat in the playoff chase. That has been especially true down the stretch, as the Rays have held opponents to only 88 runs in the month of September, the second fewest allowed in the American League. David Price and Fernando Rodney have been particularly effective, continuing to cement their cases as potential Cy Young candidates.
As well as the majority of the pitching staff has performed this month, Matt Moore has been a major exception. Overall for the month of September, he is 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA. In his four starts, he has lasted 16 innings, surrendering 16 runs, 13 earned, on 18 hits and 10 walks. The last three have been particularly rough, as he has allowed 10 runs, nine earned, in just 9.2 innings. This comes after an excellent stretch from June through August, where Moore went 9-3 over his 16 starts. During that span, he had an ERA of 2.90, allowing 94 hits and 41 walks, striking out 94 batters over 99.1 innings of work.
Perhaps Moore has simply hit a wall. Thus far in 2012, he has pitched 172 innings, surpassing his previous high for innings pitched on September 11th of this year. Joe Maddon has been removing Moore from the game the moment that it appears that the contest could get out of hand, so Moore’s confidence may be shaken as well.
Regardless of the problems that he has had thus far in September, the Rays simply need Matt Moore to step up more than ever today. The Chicago White Sox send their own Cy Young Award candidate, Chris Sale, to the mound. Sale, 17-7 with a 2.86 ERA on the season, defeated the Rays in his previous start, allowing one run on three hits while striking out 15 batters in 7.1 innings on May 28th. With the Rays sitting three games out of the playoffs with five games to play, it is crucial that Moore pitch well tonight.
The Tampa Bay Rays season may well rest on the outcome of tonight’s game. For the Rays to have a chance at the playoffs, Moore must pitch the way he did from June through August. Otherwise, their season may be just about over.