Phillies: Matt Moore exudes confidence in solid spring debut
By Matt Rappa
It was just about a month ago when the Philadelphia Phillies signed left-hander Matt Moore to a one-year, $3 million contract — as he seeks to rejuvenate his Major League Baseball career after pitching 85 innings last year in Japan.
The 31-year-old veteran made a strong first impression in a Phillies uniform in Thursday afternoon’s rout of the New York Yankees at BayCare Ballpark. Facing seven batters, the Florida native allowed just a double and walk, while striking out two — Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier — through two scoreless innings.
Phillies left-hander Matt Moore talks about his successful 2021 spring debut.
In a live interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia after his 2021 spring debut, Moore said his approach was simple — just trying to “get back in the groove,” “have baseball thoughts,” and pitch ahead of the count.
“I just wanted to get ahead of guys. It wasn’t anything special. I’m throwing three pitches,” Moore said. “Really, I just wanted to not feel like I was getting behind guys. I just wanted to pitch from a position ahead of guys and I think we did that today.”
Moore threw first-pitch strikes to all three of his batters faced in the first. The following inning, he did the same to all but one batter, Kyle Higashioka, who he walked on six pitches.
And while Moore added he did not have jitters being in a new uniform on Thursday, he told Tom McCarthy and Ruben Amaro Jr. got that out of the way last week. “When you look down, you see different color on your chest and cleats, but it’s been great,” he said. “I know a few guys here with [Brad] Miller and [Bryce] Harper, and played against a lot of these guys in Didi [Gregorius] and [Andrew] McCutchen before, so it’s nice to be on the same side.”
Moore hopes to be a staple in the team’s rotation this coming season. Assuming he makes the Opening Day roster, he would be the team’s first southpaw starting pitcher to start a season since Cole Hamels in 2015.
Matt Moore says his thoughts are ‘pretty minimum’ right now on the mound.
When asked if tempo is hard to find at the beginning of spring training, the 2013 American League All-Star replied “sometimes,” but that it depends on what is going through your head.
“Right now, my thoughts are pretty minimum — just a couple of triggers so it’s a little bit easier to find a good rhythm in the windup,” said Moore, who went on to praise the Phillies catchers that he has gotten to know and become more comfortable with the past couple of weeks.
Moore comes to the Phillies after pitching nine seasons in the majors from 2011-19, and this past season in Japan. His 85 innings overseas in 2020 would have led Major League Baseball. If there is anything Moore can learn from his experience and carry over to pitching for the Phillies this coming season, he noted that two years ago, getting comfortable to throw pitches in different counts would have been more difficult.
“We all have tendencies, beliefs, biases, and things [we do based on] experience with the hitters in the box,” Moore said. “So, I’m more comfortable throwing off speed pitches in certain counts. That’s probably one of the biggest things that I picked up over there — just getting unique with the sequencing.”
Building up those sequences will be a focus for Moore in the coming weeks ahead of the start of the regular season on April 1. He will work closely with pitching coach Caleb Cotham, with whom who he describes his current relationship as being in the “building stage.”
“I think Caleb has a pretty fresh perspective of what it’s like to be a player,” Moore said. “So far, I like the things [and ideas] we are talking about. I’m looking forward to it.”