Will Matt Moore ever be an effective major league pitcher again? As we have discussed, the answer will be probably be yes and Moore will still have at least a few good major league seasons in him. His command will eventually come back to the point where he will be a pitcher that an MLB team wants starting for their ballclub. However, the Tampa Bay Rays care about the near future a lot more than “eventually” given their starting depth, especially that they owe Moore $5 million for next season with options after that. Luckily for those with that standpoint, this game was a good sign.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 9, Louisville Bats (CIN) 3
For the first time since Tommy John Surgery, Matt Moore lasted 7 innings in a start. He gave up just 1 run on 5 hits through the first 6 innings, striking out 6 while walking none, before that last inning was a little rocky. He gave up a groundball single, a 2-run homer, and another groundball single before he was able to complete the frame. His final line of 3 runs given up on 8 hits in 7 innings isn’t as shiny. Still, he has to feel good about his first time going 7 innings since 7/22/13 and his first time getting through a start without allowing a walk or a hit batsman since 7/28 of that same year.
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Moore is clearly making strides as he now has a 3.57 ERA and a 20-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 17.2 innings pitched since rejoining the Bulls. It took him only 3 starts to come close to matching his total number of innings from his 5 rehab games earlier this season, and since that stretch, he has kept his strikeout rate constant while cutting his walk rate from 3.4 per 9 to 2.0. There is a better chance that Moore can come to the majors and throw strikes now. But he is still allowing too much hard contact–there is no positive spin on his 1.5 HR/9. He has gone from struggling pitch by pitch to just making a few mistakes each game that come to haunt him. That is a positive development, but until Moore can limit the hard contact for games at a time, he isn’t ready to return as a starter.
C.J. Riefenhauser followed by working around 2 hits with a strikeout in his inning before Jim Miller struck out 2 getting past a walk in his. But let’s move onto the offense. Taylor Motter entered this game in an 0-for-24 slide, but he broke out in a huge way, going 2 for 3 with a homer, a walk, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. He has delivered such a strong season, and it is great to see him get back to that. Luke Maile also went 3 for 4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored while Hak-Ju Lee went 2 for 4 with a triple and 2 runs scored.
Richie Shaffer and Joey Butler are back at Triple-A, and they are acting like they never missed a beat with the Bulls. Both went 2 for 5, with Shaffer adding a double and an RBI while Butler scored a run. This is actually the first time all season that Shaffer and Butler are teammates with the Bulls, and Butler’s promotion to the majors was one factor that made room for Shaffer in the Bulls’ lineup.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 2
Jacob Faria has had a much tougher time at Double-A and has really needed to earn his wins. He was able to do so in this game, allowing 4 walks while striking out 5 in 6 innings, but battling to allow just 2 runs on 6 hits. Overall, Faria has upped his strikeout rate from 7.6 per 9 innings to 10.4 per 9 since joining the Biscuits, but his ERA has more than doubled from 1.33 to 3.25. His increases in walks (from 2.7 per 9 to 4.2) and homers (0.1 to 0.7) are major reasons why. We knew that there would be bumps in the road for Faria at his new level, and hopefully he can continue working to get past them.
Jeff Ames, Mark Sappington, and Brad Schreiber tossed a shutout inning each to finish the game, with Sappington striking out 2 in a perfect frame. On the position player side, Tyler Goeddel went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and 2 runs scored, Cameron Seitzer went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and an RBI, Daniel Robertson went 1 for 3 with a walk, and Justin O’Conner went 1 for 4 with a double and a runner picked off.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Kingsport Mets 6, Princeton Rays 2
Ethan Clark had his best start of his young pro career, tossing 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. Clark gave up another homer in this game as he continues to have Moore-esque problems–he has a 22-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 21.1 innings, but he has allowed 4 home runs (1.7 per 9). Clark’s sinker has been working well for the most part, but the occasional mistake pitch has been beating him. Deivy Mendez finished the game with 3 innings allowing 4 runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1.
At the plate, Zac Law went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and an RBI while Angel Perez went 2 for 3 with a triple and a run scored. David Olmedo-Barrera also went 1 for 3 with a walk. Law continues to put together a nice season as a player who just turned 19 years of age, hitting to a .270/.332/.405 line with 8 doubles, 5 homers, 24 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 224 plate appearances.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 2, GCL Red Sox 1
Ernesto Frieri is still in the Tampa Bay Rays organization and he made his second appearance in the GCL in this game, tossing a scoreless frame. Frieri was presumably sidelined by some injury–he didn’t pitch anywhere from July 7th to August 14th–but it certainly doesn’t hurt that he is down in the GCL working with pitching coordinator Marty DeMerritt. Expectations for Frieri are non-existent at this point, but if anyone can get him back on track, it’s DeMerritt.
Junior Feliz followed with 5 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 2 and walking 2 as well. John Williams then got past 2 hits with 2 strikeouts in 2 shutout innings before Sam Triece struck out the side in the ninth. Triece has a 4-0 strikeout to walk ratio in his last 2 outings compared to 8-8 before that. The run support came from Rafelin Lorenzo went 1 for 3 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and Miguel Hernandez, who stole a base and scored the other run. Devin Davis also went 2 for 4 with a steal in the victory. Davis’ .274 batting average ranks second on the team.