Tampa Bay has promoted Matt Moore to Triple-A, putting the stud prospect one step from the majors at age 22.
Moore, who ranked 15th on Baseball America‘s preseason list of the MLB’s top prospects and moved up to the No. 3 spot on their midseason revision, had a 2.20 ERA and 131/28 K/BB ratio in 102 innings at Double-A, leading the Southern League in opponents’ batting average (.187) and strikeouts.
For his career Moore has a 2.79 ERA and 621 strikeouts in 445 innings and adding the left-hander to a rotation that already includes David Price, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson is a scary thought and one reason why the Rays are going to be winning 90-plus games a year for a long time. It’s possible Moore will get a cup of coffee in the majors this September, but his true estimated time of arrival is probably mid-2012.
“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.
Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:
Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?
There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.
As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.