Turns out, Moore wasn’t as heralded as Strasburg because he isn’t as good but that’s not a knock on the Giants’ new lefty as much as a tip of the cap to Stras’ unbelievable stuff.
Moore has battled injuries for most of his short career but for the most part, when he’s been healthy, he’s been good. Matt posted a 3.81 ERA in his first full season and a 3.29 over 150 innings in his second, good enough for an All Star selection and some Cy Young votes. After a promising start to 2014, he had Tommy John surgery and 2015 was bit rocky, Moore posted 5.43 ERA in just 12 starts and this season hasn’t been a ton better. So far, Moore has a 4.08 ERA in 130 innings, good for a rather pedestrian 1.4 WAR.
There’s more to the story though. It usually takes a year and half or so for pitchers to really recover from Tommy John. They come back after a year but they typically aren’t truly effective for another 6 months or so. Want evidence? Look at Adam Wainwright. Moore is just about to enter that period.
The thing about Moore, though, that has always made him unique is his pure stuff. Moore features a mid 90’s fastball and a mid 90’s sinker to go along with a pretty good changeup and curveball. His sinker moves around 11 inches horizontally from where he releases it and falls by around 7 or 8 inches on average. His fastball is good for the 26th fastest, on average, of any pitcher in baseball in 2016, just behind guys like Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale and just ahead of David Price.
Most importantly, Matt’s fastball velocity is up a tick from last season, more in line with his career averages, a signal that he may be back to feeling like his old self.
Moore has been a little homer prone this season but moving to pitcher friendly AT&T Park in San Francisco should help that. He’s striking out nearly 8 batters per 9 and walking just above 2. Notably for the Giants, Moore is holding lefties to just a .284 wOBA, a key thing to note as the Dodgers, San Fran’s chief rival for the NL West crown, is heavily reliant on left handed hitters.
In fact, Moore slots in behind another lefty, Madison Bumgarner, in the Giants rotation. Bumgarner, while only 27, is a proven veteran and former World Series MVP. In fact, the entire Giants rotation is made up veterans. Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are both in their first seasons with the Giants, but are established big league starters. Jake Peavy is an old man and Matt Cain is a former perennial All Star whose career has taken a semi-inexplicable nose dive in the past 3 or 4 years. All in all, its a seasoned group with a lot of wisdom to share.
That experience will undoubtedly help Moore. In Tampa, the 27 year old was the old hand on the staff. Aside from David Price, the Rays have had a rotation of young, cheap starters move through the club over the last 5 years. While Moore is signed to a long term deal, most of the guys around him weren’t. In San Francisco, there will be some stability and some mentoring.
Essentially, everything looks teed up for the Giants to get the Matt Moore of their deepest desires. He’s rebounded from Tommy John surgery, he’s in a pitcher friendly park in the middle of a playoff chase surrounded by established starters. If Moore was every going to really come into his own as the type of top notch pitcher that his velocity and movement say he should be, now’s the time.