Matt Moore Is Struggling for the Tampa Bay Rays; What’s Next?

The Tampa Bay Rays loved Matt Moore so much prior to the season that they signed him to 5-year, $14 million extension. I have no qualms about the extension considering it’s a fantastic bargain if Matt Moore pitches to his potential, but maybe it gave Matt Moore some added pressure in his first full season with the Tampa Bay Rays.

It also didn’t help Matt Moore the way he debuted last season. His first major league win was a gem at Yankee Stadium, and then he shut down the Texas Rangers for the only win the Rays had last postseason. So there was already plenty of hype heading into the season for Matt Moore. I mean, who wouldn’t love a pitcher like the one Matt Moore portrayed towards the end of 2011. But so far in 2012, Matt Moore looks like he’s better suited for long relief instead of the starting rotation.

In six starts this season, Matt Moore has terrible statistics across the board. His ERA (5.71), FIP (5.23), BB/9 (4.67), and HR/9 (1.56) is something you would expect from a Triple-A pitcher, not the top pitching prospect in baseball. The most depressing thing about Matt Moore is there is absolutely nothing indicating he is going to get better from these peripherals. Another thing that makes Matt Moore’s brutal start all the more ominous is the teams he has pitched against.

In his last four starts, he faced the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Oakland A’s, who are all in the bottom half of the league in runs scored. But during those four starts, Matt Moore has a 5.82 ERA, allowing 37 base-runners in 21 2/3 innings. Yikes.

The thing that is troubling for Matt Moore is if there is one thing the Tampa Bay Rays have plenty of, it’s starting pitching. Wade Davis – who averaged around 175 innings the last two seasons – is being used as a set-up man in the bullpen. Luckily for Matt Moore, however, is two of Tampa’s top pitching prospects (Alex Torres and Chris Archer) are struggling for the Durham Bulls. Ergo, as of right now, there isn’t a lot of pressure to replace him in the rotation.

So what should the Tampa Bay Rays do? What’s the breaking point for Matt Moore? Because they can’t keep throwing him out there if he’s getting rocked by anemic offenses. Will a demotion to Triple-A help him figure out his issues? What say you? What should the Rays do with Matt Moore?

Whatever does happen with Matt Moore, we have to remember he is only 22-years old, so there is no reason to panic.

Bryan is a featured writer for Rant Sports. Although he concentrates mostly on the game of baseball, you can find him covering things all over the Rant Sports Network. 

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