RotoWire Partners

Collette Calls: Moore Has Been Less

Jason Collette

Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. He covers the Tampa Bay Rays at You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Towers of Power Baseball Hour Podcast on iTunes. He was selected as the Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year by FSWA in 2013.

Matt Moore left his Monday start against Kansas City after feeling discomfort in his elbow while throwing a changeup to Alcides Escobar. This is how Moore described the injury Monday night:

Moore spent time on the disabled list last season after feeling discomfort with his changeup in a start against the Yankees, but said he felt the pain during that outing in the bullpen. This time, it just snuck up on him. As you saw in the video, Moore threw his changeup without issue all spring and in his first outing, but this may be why he is adding a cutter now if he is going to be timid about throwing his changeup in his next outing. When that next outing is, we don't know, as the Rays placed him on the disabled list Tuesday afternoon.

The Rays are extremely conservative when it comes to injuries, so the DL stint is hardly surprising, nor would it be surprising if we do not see him until June. Last season, he missed 30 games with the injury. This time, if we are to believe the player and the communications from the team, it is not as bad. Forgive me if I am more pessimistic in a 2014 where pitchers are dropping like flies thus far.

Injury aside, it is not much of a reach to say that Moore's fantasy career has been a disappointment. To review, this is what his pedigree was coming up through the system as reviewed by Baseball America:

Organizational Ranking:
Rays' sixth-best prospect in 2008
Rays' fourth-best prospect in 2009
Rays' second-best prospect in 2010
Rays' top prospect in 2011

Top 100 Ranking:
#35 prospect after the 2009 season
#15 prospect after the 2010 season
#2 prospect after the 2011 season

Organization Best Tools:
2009: Best curveball in the system
2010: Best curveball in the system
2010: Best fastball in the system
2011: Best control in the system
2011: Best fastball in the system
2011: Best curveball in the system

League Best Tools:
2010: Best breaking pitch in the Florida State League
2010: Best pitching prospect in the Florida State League
2011: Best pitching prospect in the Southern League
2011: Best fastball in the Southern League

While the 29-17 win-loss record is acceptable, the career 3.53 ERA and 1.33 WHIP are not exactly what fantasy owners thought they were going to get as Moore came up. Here is how some of his skills compare to the league average for all pitchers that have made at least 60 starts since 2011:

Batting Average95%
Strike% (strikes + in plays)16%
Called Strike%11%

The four bolded areas stand out they are the only areas where Moore is below the league average, and are the areas that have held him back from his potential.

One theory is that Moore could sacrifice velocity for command of his pitches to throw more strikes and not work from behind in so many counts. He is throwing with less velocity these days, but it is not resulting in more strikes.

The theory goes that if the pitcher sacrifices a tick or two of velocity, they can command their pitches better. Moore is the outlier of that theory because his indicators are trending in the opposite direction.

1st Pitch Strike%60.0%59.9%51.1%43.2%
Called Strike%32.2%31.1%29.9%28.0%

In AL LABR, Moore went for $15. In AL Tout Wars, Moore went $16. In Mixed Tout Wars, Moore went $10. Last season, Moore was a $7 pitcher in mixed leagues and a $14 in AL-only leagues, despite missing 30 games with the similar issue he now has. The money invested in him on draft day can still be earned, but there is a zero opportunity for profit with him with the injury. The declining velocity without an increase in command is the larger concern. Adding a new pitch will help him somewhat, but rediscovering his old command will work even better.

Assuming that Moore's MRI is clean and he only misses a small amount of time, you should think long and hard about rostering Moore this season unless his current owner is selling him at a good discount. I am not listening unless he is being sold 75 cents on the dollar.