Some believed that Tampa Bay Rays SP Matt Moore’s hot start and 8-0 record were signs of true progression from the young pitcher. Instead, this was just a few hot starts, good luck, and variance in the win statistic.
Moore entered the season with an alarming walk rate (over four walks per nine innings) and that has actually deteriorated thus far in 2013. With a decreased strikeout rate, worsened walk rate, and moderate luck on his increased number of balls in play, Moore’s performance in the remainder of 2013 should be significantly worse than his early season 3.78 ERA.
Pitchers with the Rays often outpitch their peripherals as the team maximizes their actual outcomes with shifting and strong defense. Moore, however, should enjoy these benefits less than other pitchers. As a fly ball pitcher, Moore will be subject to the variance of home runs on fly balls, rather than enjoying the strong ground ball defense behind him.
Because of this, the gap between Moore’s ERA and FIP should be closer to his career difference of 0.20 (3.97 FIP, 3.77 ERA), rather than his present 0.55 (4.33 FIP, 3.78 ERA). In this situation, Moore’s ERA for the remainder of the year should be closer to a quarter-run over four, rather than a quarter-run under.
Moore showed elite strikeout tendencies in the minor leagues and he would benefit from rediscovering this ability. With an 8.94 career K/9 and 37.4 percent career ground ball percentage, Moore can be successful. He will, however, consistently fight troubles with the home run ball.
If he can increase either of those numbers, by inducing more strikeouts or ground balls and therefore fewer fly balls, he will undoubtedly have better numbers and enjoy more tangible success.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.