For the first two months of the year, Matt Moore was virtually untouchable, going 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA and striking out 57 batters in his 62 innings of work. His hot start was a main reason as to why the Rays had been able to hang around in the American League East, despite the struggles of the bullpen and of David Price and Jeremy Hellickson.
Moore had appeared as though he was close to taking the next step in his development as a pitcher, making adjustments on the mound and building off the run of success he had from June through August of last season. He seemed as though he was ready to fill the void left in the rotation with the departure of James Shields, and to be that second ace that the Rays needed.
Yet, over the last two starts, Moore has started to show the inconsistency that he had at times last season. Since the calender flipped to June, he has allowed 15 runs, with 14 of those earned, in just seven innings of work. His ERA climbed from 2.18 to 3.78 in just a week and a half.
Both of these bad starts happened after the ill-fated game versus the Cleveland Indians on May 31, when he came out for the first inning, then had to sit through two rain delays as his night was finished almost before it started. His next start was on June 4th, on just three days of rest. While he was not exactly overworked during his 11 pitch outing against Cleveland, perhaps that quick turnaround threw him off just enough to affect his next start, and get him out of rhythm.
Looking at Moore’s pitching, his velocity has been roughly the same over the past two starts as it has been, but he appears to be missing more in the zone than he had been. This may be due to not quite being comfortable as his schedule has been thrown off, or he may just be struggling with his command as he has done in the past. However, for most of this season, he has been able to make adjustments as needed on the mound.
It is only two rough starts, so there is no reason to panic or to really be concerned at this point. But if Matt Moore continues to struggle, then the Rays may find themselves needing Price to get back to his dominate form more than they already did.