Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Now In Detroit, Is There Any Reason To Believe In Matt Moore?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Once upon a time Matt Moore was considered one of the elite prospects in the game and he followed that up with a strong start to his professional career.  Since throwing just 10.0 innings in 2014 due to Tommy John surgery he’s never recovered, including posting ERA of 5.52 and 6.79 over the past two seasons and settling for a bullpen role for much of ’18 (39 appearances, 12 starts).

Now Moore is going to get an opportunity to resurrect his career after signing with the rebuilding Detroit Tigers, who has the motivation to try and allow him to rediscover himself.  Is there any reason to believe that he’ll get there though?

We always look at three skills for pitchers and it appears that he’s lacking in all of them:

  • Strikeouts – 7.59 K/9
  • Control – 3.62 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 37.7%

Even when Moore was thriving back in 2012 and 2013 his strikeout rate was never impressive, with K/9 of 8.88 and 8.56.  His 9.7% SwStr% last season doesn’t make you think that there’s much upside, especially having spent a decent amount of time coming out of the bullpen.

His 30.3% O-Swing% doesn’t help, and with a career 28.4% mark it makes sense that his control has always been rather pedestrian (3.74 BB/9).  So even while he was pitching well he didn’t have great strikeout or walk rates, then you add on the groundball rate…

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Moore has struggled with home runs in recent years, with HR/9 of 1.39 and 1.68.  Sure Detroit is more of a pitcher friendly ballpark, but he was San Francisco in 2017 and that didn’t help.  Throw in having to maneuver around more difficult lineups with the DH and the upside looks even worse.

Maybe the 47.5% Hard% isn’t a believable mark, but it doesn’t really matter.  Even with an improvement there what are we hanging our hats on?  He simply lacks the upside in any of the skills we look for to think that there’s any hope that he suddenly turns things around.  With the likelihood that he ultimately ends up in the bullpen high, don’t look at Moore and think there’s any reason for optimism.

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18


  1. CJ says:

    Hey Prof. Thanks for all your content, especially in the offseason. Gives us fans something to lean on while baseball is dormant.

    I’ve been weighing pros and cons for a couple months now on who to keep between Price, Archer, and Godley. Can only keep 1. I’ve been leaning Archer, but Price is most likely to help me in short term.
    Any insight is appreciated.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I have no faith in Price (though I also don’t love any of them for the coming season). I’d love to be able to say Godley, but I’d have to lean Archer at this point

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