Rays turn to rookie Matt Moore for ALDS Game 1 start

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Rays manager Joe Maddon is going all-in.

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the bespectacled skipper announced late Thursday evening that rookie left-hander Matt Moore will take the mound Friday in Texas for Game 1 of the Rays’ ALDS matchup with the Rangers.

James Shields probably would have been Maddon’s preferred option for Friday’s series opener, but the righty hurled 8 2/3 tough innings Monday against New York and the Rays want to keep him on normal rest. Shields will pitch Game 2 on Saturday night.

Moore, widely regarded as baseball’s top pitching prospect, has posted a 2.89 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio in 9 1/3 innings since earning a promotion to the major leagues just two weeks ago. The 22-year-old lefty fanned 11 Yankees hitters over five scoreless innings last week during the first start of his major league career.

It’ll be a mighty test for Moore — one that spawned real mental issues for a southpaw with similar hype back in the 2000 NLDS — but Maddon is simply putting his best foot forward. He’s trusting the talent. And we can’t wait to see how the youngster responds under the bright lights of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.