5 Phillies most interesting to follow this spring training

Matt Moore #55, formerly of the Texas Rangers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Matt Moore #55, formerly of the Texas Rangers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Spring training game action will officially get underway for the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, as the club kicks off its 28-game Grapefruit League schedule opposite the Detroit Tigers.

Here are five Phillies players most interesting to follow over the coming weeks.

Matt Moore looks to earn his spot in the Phillies starting rotation.

Among the slew of moves president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made this offseason was adding depth to the team’s starting rotation. In late January, the Phillies reached a one-year, $3 million agreement with left-hander Matt Moore.

What is intriguing about Moore — not only just that he would be a rare southpaw in the Phillies rotation ever since the days of Cole Hamels — but that he threw 85 innings last season in Japan. This figure would have led Major League Baseball, whose 2020 season was shortened from 162 to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Phillies will need pitchers who can eat up innings in 2021, and Moore’s arm is already adjusted to a more lengthy season. The 31-year-old showed his stuff is still there, posting a 2.65 ERA overseas after nine seasons in the majors.

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In 2013, Moore was named an All-Star while with the Tampa Bay Rays — a season in which he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, and 143-76 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 27 starts and 150 1/3 innings.

Since 2016, 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). None of these pitchers started for the team in 2020, and only one remains with the organization in Suarez.

It will be interesting to see if Moore can earn himself a spot in the rotation and to provide a much-needed left-handed presence in the rotation to complement Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin.