Matt Moore to likely join rare list of recent Phillies arms

Matt Moore #45, formerly of the San Francisco Giants (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Matt Moore #45, formerly of the San Francisco Giants (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Remember the days of Randy Wolf and Eric Milton, or Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee? The Philadelphia Phillies always seemed to have a reliable left-handed starting pitcher in their rotation in the early days of the Citizens Bank Park era.

Recently, however, a southpaw starter donning red pinstripes has been hard to come by. Since the 2016 season, only six different left-handed Phillies pitchers have started a game — Adam Morgan (21 starts), Drew Smyly (12), Jason Vargas (11), Ranger Suarez (3), Cole Irvin (3), and Jose Alvarez (1).

Combined, these 51 starts account for just shy of 6 percent of all 870 Phillies games since 2016. Newly signed Phillies pitcher, left-hander Matt Moore, will likely help to increase that figure this coming season.

Signed on Friday to a one-year, $3 million deal (plus incentives), the 31-year-old Moore returns to Major League Baseball after posting a 2.65 ERA across 85 innings this past season in Japan. Moore pitched from 2011 to 2019 in the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers. In 2013, he was named an All-Star and finished the year going 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts.

Phillies left-handed starters have not exactly had success in recent years. Combined since 2016, they have gone just 9-19 with a 5.52 ERA in 259 1/3 innings. The club hopes Moore can translate his 2020 success overseas to quality innings back in Major League Baseball.

The most innings any Major League pitcher threw in 2020 regular season games was 84 by the Texas Rangers’ Lance Lynn. As pitchers adjust from a shortened, 60-game sprint to a prolonged 162-game marathon, there will be some growing pains. But, Moore will already be a step ahead of the game in that respect and could bring some much-needed lefty-righty balance to the Phillies rotation that it has not recently seen.

When pitchers and catchers report in a few weeks to Clearwater, and throughout spring training, Moore will have to prove he is worthy to enter the rotation to complement Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin and perhaps Spencer Howard. But, as NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury notes, his Friday deal shows the club already has some confidence that he will pitch in the starting rotation.

Even if Moore doesn’t start the season in the rotation, him being signed to a major-league deal almost guarantees he will get at least one look at some point in 2021.

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