Rays left-hander Matt Moore took the mound Thursday night at Yankee Stadium for the first start of his major league career. And it went about as well as any prospect evaluator could have imagined.
The 22-year-old southpaw fanned 11 batters over five scoreless innings, yielding only four hits and issuing just one walk as the Rays grabbed a crucial 15-8 victory to move a half-game closer to the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card standings.
According to ESPN’s StatsInfo, Moore is the first pitcher in major league history to tally 11 strikeouts in five innings or less against the Yankees. Rookie or non-rookie. He threw 59 of his 84 pitches for strikes, displaying high-90s fastball velocity and great command over his curveball and changeup.
Moore was promoted to the big leagues 10 days ago after registering a 1.92 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 210/46 K/BB ratio across 155 innings between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. He has ace-like upside.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.