Some Matt Moore PITCHf/x

Matt Moore has pitched in two major league games.  Considering the fact that came into the year as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, his debut garnered plenty of interest.  A four-inning, 85 pitch sample isn’t much, but it still should be able to tell us some things about the Rays’ young southpaw.

First, let’s start with what Moore himself says.  This is taken from an interview with SUN Sports that aired on Wednesday before his debut:

“Right now, I just throw a four-seam fastball, a circle-changeup, and a curveball.  My gameplan, basically, is probably the same as 90% of the pitchers out there: get strike one over, and attack the zone and attack the hitter until you need to make adjustments otherwise.”

With that in mind, we can take a look at the PITCHf/x data we have on him.  Moore has used all three of his pitches in his two major league appearances at Camden Yards and Fenway Park; the scatter plot below shows their horizontal movement (pfx_x in the PITCHf/x columns) and velocity.  Be mindful of the fact that Camden’s pfx_x measurements are shifted positive by a few inches, while Fenway looks pretty accurate.

Moore’s fastball looks like it gets about 8 inches of armside movement, once you compensate for the miscalculation from the Baltimore game.  That’s a lot more movement than the average four-seamer (the natural tailing action comes from Moore’s ¾ arm angle).  Also, the 96 mph he’s averaging on his fastball this year is harder than any lefty not named Aroldis Chapman.  As for his secondary pitches: his changeup is fast but still has 10 mph separation from his fastball.  The curveball is in the mid-80s and gets more than two-and-a-half inches of topspin than would a spinless pitch – that might qualify as a “tight” curveball; the “biggest” curveballs have about ten inches of topspin.  At faster than 84 mph, it’s faster than the average lefty slider AND it has a few inches more movement; if he can command it down in the zone, it looks like it could be a lethal strikeout pitch.

In his eight plate appearances against lefties and eight plate appearances against righties, here is how Moore has mixed up his pitches in some different count situations (not meant to be predictive since our sample is small):

      First (10)     2 Strikes (13) Behind (8)
FF    90%            69%            100%
CH     0%             0%              0%
CU    10%            31%              0%
      First (10)     2 Strikes (10) Behind (1)
FF    80%            50%            100%
CH    20%            40%              0%
CU     0%            10%              0%

“Behind” in this case is for pitches thrown in a 2-0, 3-1, or 3-0 count.
The parenthetical numbers indicate the total number of pitches thrown in that count situation.

So far, he’s been comfortable using the curveball in a put-away spot against lefties and the change against righties.

And finally, some pitch results (sample size caveat applies here more than ever!).

      vs LHB     vs RHB     Ball       Called     Whiff      Foul           In Play
FF    40         23         24         11         7          10             11
CH     0         11          4          1         3           0              3
CU     9          2          8          1         1           1              0

This is just a brief look at what Moore has to offer.  As the Rays have inserted themselves into the thick of the playoff chase, we’ll likely get to see him handle quite a few meaningful innings down the stretch.

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