Phillies look to LHP Matt Moore to fill out their rotation

After resigning JT Realmuto, the rest of the Phillies offseason became much clearer. They were going to be aggressive in attacking their other holes, with shortstop, centerfield, and rotation depth being their top priorities left.

Well, you can scratch off rotation depth on the list of holes. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, the Phillies agreed to terms with free agent LHP Matt Moore.

Once upon a time, Moore was considered one of the top three prospects in the MLB, right beside Bryce Harper and some guy named Mike Trout. Moore looked to continue the still active tradition of the Tampa Bay Rays developing high level starting pitchers just to trade them, but, unfortunately, injuries can derail the trajectory of a career. Moore suffered a torn UCL (the kiss of death for starting pitchers) in April of 2014, and was forced to have Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of 2014, as well as the entire 2015 season.

Moore was not the same pitcher after the surgery and struggled to find success again in the Major Leagues. A torn meniscus in knee knocked him out of the 2019 season, but Moore was able to secure a $3.5 million contract.

Just not in the United States.

Moore signed a one-year deal with Softbank Hawks of the NPB in Japan, and it’s turned out to be exactly what he needed to get on track. Through 78 innings of work, Moore worked to a 2.65 ERA with 89 strikeouts to 22 walks. Walking only 7.4% of the batters you face would be a great mark in any baseball league, and Moore accomplished that feat. If you add the innings he pitched on a rehab assignment, Moore’s 85 innings would have been good for tops in the MLB. The Phillies could use another innings eater in their rotation, so Moore is definitely a welcome addition.

While the move carries more risk than $3 million normally would, it could also bring more rewards to the franchise. Long known as a strikeout guy, Moore was averaging career low strikeout numbers during his last year in the bigs. Moore averaged almost 12 strikouts per 9 innings last year, albeit against weaker competition. If he can translate even some of the magic he recaptured last year in Japan, Moore could turn out to be a fantastic signing for the Phillies. While it was rumored earlier in the offseason that the Phillies had interest in Anibal Sanchez, this signing gets me excited more than Sanchez would have. Moore should be perfect veteran competition for Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez for the last two rotation spots.

I wouldn’t mind seeing that every fifth day.

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