Coming into the season Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Matt Moore ranked 1-2-3 in some order on every prospect list, with each of them holding the top spot for at least one prominent ranking.
Harper got all the early hype, Trout has emerged as the best player in the American League … and Moore has mostly flown under the radar in Tampa Bay.
However, in a normal, non-Trout year Moore would be getting plenty of attention as a Rookie of the Year candidate while thriving at age 23. His overall numbers are solid with a 3.57 ERA in 24 starts, but Moore has been particularly outstanding since getting knocked around for eight runs by the A’s on May 6.
He’s made 18 starts since then and has the following numbers: 109 innings, 2.89 ERA, .217 opponents’ batting average, 110 strikeouts. And that includes a 1.64 ERA and 42/15 K/BB ratio in 44 innings during his last seven starts.
Moore’s control hasn’t been great, but he’s doing exactly what all the people who fell in love with him as a prospect thought he was capable of. It’s just that no one has really noticed because Mike Trout has been MIKE TROUT.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.