Following last night’s 7-2 debacle, Joe Maddon tweeted,
“I know I sound like a broken record but we have to pitch a lot better to get to the spot we want to this year.”
Maddon’s got a point. Three of the five starters have given up five or more runs in an inning this week. Because of it, the Rays have lost five of their last six games, while going 3-5 on this 10-game home-stand. To add insult to injury, they seem to be ebbing at the plate, scoring only four runs in the last three games, going 1-for-22 wRISP in the same span. All this from a team that has averaged five runs per game in June. I digress.
After a rough first inning, something seemed to click in Matt Moore — he pitched really well from that point, through the fourth inning. But like Jeremy Hellickson the night previous, Moore couldn’t avoid the big inning. Moore gave up four runs in the fifth, consequently putting Tampa Bay in a three run deficit. Unlike Hellickson though, why he blew the game is glaringly obvious: Moore had spotty command, and his velocity was down.
Having attended the game, I didn’t get a chance to hear what BA or Dewayne had to say about Moore. However, Ian Malinowski of DRaysBay imparted the wisdom of the Rays announcers, noting,
“His mechanics are inconsistent (the telecast highlighted four pitches in the same at bat with four different follow-throughs), he can’t find his release point, and his velocity is down in the low 90s.”
Thankfully his fastball hasn’t flattened out. However spotty command of a low 90’s fastball makes Matt Moore a very ordinary, and hittable, pitcher. Look no further than his previous three starts for evidence of that. I’m not going to delve too much into last night’s game. You can check out our Tumblr page for a blow-by-blow account of the game, live from section 122.
I overheard a conversation involving one of the employees at the Trop last night. She said something that struck me as true, “The Rays are playing like nine men on the field, not a team.” When the starters were doing okay, the pen was blowing it and the Rays couldn’t score runs. Then the pen came around and the Rays have been scoring a lot of runs, but now the starters are blowing it. In order for the Rays to win 90 games or more — or make it to the post-season — all of the parts are going to need to click in unison.
I would like to spotlight the Rays bullpen for a moment. After faltering out the gate, Joel Peralta and the boys (with the exception of a certain pitcher) have really tightened things up. Compare the relievers numbers in May with what they’ve put together in the first half of June. Generally speaking, the relievers have significantly lowered their ERA, batting average against, and the number of walks and home runs they’ve given up over nine innings. They’ve also increased the number of strikeouts over nine innings, among other things.
Furthermore, the addition of Alex Torres has really boosted the pen. The LHP still hasn’t relinquished a run in 14-1/3 innings of work, while Torres has given up only three hits and struck out 19.
The New What Next
Alex Cobb played the role of grinder in his last start, and the Rays will look to the split-change of destruction throwing righty to put together a quality outing Saturday. Cobb will take on Jeremy Guthrie in the 4:10 game at the Trop. You can read about the pitching match-up here, and we’ll post the starting lineup when it becomes available.
Rays 6/15/13 Starting Lineup