The Tampa Bay Rays are handing the ball to rookie pitcher Matt Moore tonight, asking the young left-hander to salvage the final game of their series with the New York Yankees. It will be Moore’s first start at the Major League level, and he will be looking to end the Rays current three game slide.
Talk about pressure.
Originally, Moore was tabbed as the next David Price following his late season promotion. Tampa Bay looked to use Moore in a relief role, similar to how they utilized Price on their way to the 2008 World Series.
Following his promotion, Moore had a pair of rocky outings. Combined, Moore surrendered 3 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks in his 4.1 innings of work.
On a more positive note, Moore struck out 4 batters over that span and earned a hold during Friday’s 4-3 win over the Red Sox.
Now, after yesterday’s double header, Moore will get his first shot as a Major League starter. I think it’s fair to say that the conditions would seem less than ideal for anyone, especially someone starting their first game in the bigs.
Moore and the Rays currently trail the Red Sox by 2.5 games and are fighting for playoff life. On top of this, Moore has to face a Yankees lineup that ranks 2nd in the Majors in runs scored and on base percentage while tallying a league best 213 round-trippers.
Did I mention the game is in New York?
While all of these factors may seem to signal Moore’s inevitable defeat, the lefty is not your run-of-the-mill rookie starter.
Before his promotion, Moore had compiled a record of 12-3 to go with his silly 1.92 ERA and 0.948 WHIP pitching for the Rays Double and Triple-A squads. Moore checked in as one of the Minor’s best entering the season, and has become another product of the ridiculous Tampa Bay farm system.
Still, Major League Baseball is a little different from the International League and the Yankees Moore will be facing tonight aren’t from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It will be interesting to see how the rookie responds to the pressure, and if he can provide Tampa Bay with the shot in the arm they so desperately need.
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