Rays Call Up Matt Moore

Good things come to those who wait. If that’s true, then Matt Moore better be really really good. Even though Moore was regarded as one of the top — if not the top — pitching prospect in the minors, the Tampa Bay Rays waited until September to call up their top prospect. Owners have waited all season to use utilize Moore, and now that he’s finally arrived, it’s time to determine how much value he can provide to fantasy teams going forward.

Much of Moore’s value will be determined by how the Rays choose to employ their young fireballer. Many have speculated that Moore will be used in a similar fashion to David Price — who was used out of the bullpen in his rookie season before moving to the rotation the following year. Moore has incredible numbers in the minors this season — including a 13.50 K/9 and a 2.02 FIP. Allowing him to pitch out of the bullpen — at full throttle over a short period — is an incredibly scary thought for opposing hitters.

That said, Moore won’t have much value to fantasy teams as a reliever unless he’s closing out games. While it doesn’t seem likely that Joe Maddon would immediately turn to his brand-new rookie to close out games, Kyle Farnsworth‘s injury does create an opportunity for a new closer to step up. Moore will likely rack up a ton of strikeouts — and may even pick up an occasional hold — but he probably won’t provide all that much value to fantasy teams if he’s used as a reliever.

As our own Erik Hahmann has speculated elsewhere, however, Moore may get an opportunity to start a game down the stretch. Unfortunately, that start may come against the New York Yankees. While it’s nearly impossible to recommend any pitcher against the Yankees, Moore has the upside and strikeout ability to provide immense value as a starting pitcher. It wouldn’t be the greatest matchup for Moore, but he might be worth a spot start purely based on his talent.

No matter what role Moore will play, he’s at least worth a speculative pickup in most leagues. If he can claim the closer role (or pick up holds if you play in a league that uses them as a stat category), he immediately becomes one of the more dangerous closers in the league based on his strikeout potential. If Moore is just a relief pitcher, he can still provide fantasy teams with strikeouts and holds.

If Moore does have the opportunity to make an appearance in the rotation, he’s definitely worth a roster spot in mixed leagues. Even though his first start might be against a tough opponent, his upside makes him a tempting play against the Yankees. If, however, Moore is able to stick in the rotation down the stretch, he could be a huge boon to fantasy teams still fighting for their league trophy. Owners may have waited quite a long time for Moore’s debut, but he could still play a huge role this season based on how the Rays choose to employ their young stud.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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I so badly want to trade for Matt Moore in my long term keeper league, but I cannot justify it when I can get a guy like Pineda for relatively the same value and he doesn’t pitch in the AL East. I love my Rays’ pitchers, but I cannot justify investing in them in fantasy because of the division. It is so depressing.