by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were high expectations for Matt Moore, with 2017 being his first full season pitching in the NL. However at the end of the day the numbers were highly disappointing, as he struggled to both generate strikeouts and was consistently burnt by the long ball. Just look at the numbers he generated:
148 Strikeouts (7.64 K/9)
67 Walks (3.46 BB/9)
37.7% Groundball Rate
Control was always the biggest concern, and with the move to the National League it was expected that the injury plagued starter would return to generating nearly a strikeout per inning. Instead he fell far short of those expectations, as both his SwStr% (8.6%) and O-Swing% (27.9%) were pedestrian, at best. Maybe part of the problem was his velocity, which was down (92.46 mph on his fourseam fastball).
Is there hope that he can rebound and start generating more strikeouts? Perhaps, as he does have two pitches that were garnering swings and misses:
- Changeup – 14.25%
- Curveball – 16.97%
However, he needs to be able to get into position to utilize them to get strike three. Opponents posted a .310 AVG and .575 SLG against his fastball, so it all comes down to improving that pitch. Maybe he gets there, but even if he does will it be enough?
He’s never shown very good control, with a 3.76 career BB/9…
He’s never shown a big groundball rate, with a 38.4% career groundball rate…
If you want to point towards poor luck you can (he also posted a 66.9% strand rate), but that’s being overly optimistic. Even if he improves in the luck department, the consistent flow of base runners and potential home run problems aren’t going to disappear. Is he better than a 5.50 ERA? Probably, but he also is unlikely to push for a mark below 3.50.
We’re looking at a 4.25 – 4.50 ERA pitcher, at best, and one that doesn’t seem likely to bring an extreme strikeout rate with him. In other words, the name will bring intrigue but the substance isn’t there. Move on to a pitcher with a higher upside.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball