As exciting as the one-game Wild Card playoff is, it puts the team that wins at a big disadvantage going into the postseason. What’s even more difficult is having to play two games to get into the Division Series and lose their top two starters for Game 1 of the series.
Due to pitching David Price and Alex Cobb in elimination games, the Rays will start Matt Moore in Game 1 of the ALDS at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.
Moore, who went 17-4 this season with an ERA of 3.29, isn’t any ordinary no. 3 starter. He burst onto the scene in the 2011 postseason, where he was given the ball in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers after only three major league appearances.
Moore delivered by going seven innings, giving up two hits, no runs and striking out six in a 9-0 Tampa win. He also pitched a game in relief where he went three innings and gave up his only run of the postseason. After an up and down sophomore campaign, Moore started 2013 with a 9-0 record en route to his first All-Star game. He pitched in the fifth inning and was perfect and only threw nine pitches total.
It may be just perfect planning by manager Joe Maddon, but the Rays should feel more comfortable with Moore on the mound in Game 1 than anyone else. He made two starts against the Red Sox and went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, while striking out 12 in 15 innings. He held the Red Sox to a .102 BA and only gave up five hits in those 15 innings.
Other than David Ortiz, the Red Sox roster has gone a combined 7-for-66 against Moore with no home runs and three RBIs. Ortiz is the only one that has been able to solve Moore, going 6-for-13 against him.
With Moore scheduled to pitch Game 1 and perhaps Game 5, both in Fenway Park, he will need to steal at least one of those games for the Rays to advance to the ALCS.