The Rays suffered 4-2 defeats in both halves of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Yankees, dropping a half-game in the AL Wild Card standings despite the Red Sox’ 6-4 loss to the Orioles.
Well aware that another loss could sink the Rays’ chances of overtaking Boston by the end of the regular season, Rays manager Joe Maddon has made an aggressive but warranted move.
According to beat writer Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, rookie Matt Moore will take the mound in Thursday evening’s series finale against New York. It will be the first major league start of the 22-year-old left-hander’s career.
Jeff Niemann, who was originally scheduled to make the start, has been bumped to Saturday.
Widely regarded as baseball’s best pitching prospect, Moore posted a 1.92 ERA and 210/46 K/BB ratio in 155 innings this season between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham before earning a mid-September promotion to the majors. He’ll be taking on a Yankees squad fresh off an AL East title celebration.
Tampa Bay faces a 2.5-game Wild Card deficit with only seven games left to play.