Matt Moore’s bizarre season with the Phillies

Matt Moore of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Matt Moore of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Phillies will start Zach Eflin on Thursday for the first time since July 16. Left-hander Matt Moore will move from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

Moore was signed during the offseason to provide starting pitching depth at the back end of the Phillies’ rotation. The 32-year-old journeyman made an All-Star appearance with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 and bounced around the big leagues in the years following.

He spent 2020 pitching in Japan.

The signing has not gone as planned. He is 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA in 19 games (11 starts) this season.

Along with veterans Vince Velasquez and Chase Anderson, he failed to provide stability in the rotation early in the season.

However, his peculiar trip through the 2021 season has consisted of an unusual set of labels. He has gone from a failed starter to a mediocre reliever to a serviceable opener to a pitcher who nearly threw the 14th no-hitter in Phillies history.

Phillies moving Matt Moore around

Matt Moore won a spot in the starting rotation during spring training but only kept it for three starts to begin the regular season. He posted a 9.82 ERA during the month of April.

The initial perception of Phillies fans was rightfully negative. Minimal work out of the bullpen and minor injury concerns in May did nothing to reverse that perception.

However, Moore quietly showed notable improvement after returning to the starting rotation in late June. He threw five shutout innings against the New York Mets on June 25, the first of four consecutive starts in which he allowed two earned runs of fewer.

Although he was not providing ideal length as a starter, he gave manager Joe Girardi enough of an option to justify his position in the Phillies patchwork starting rotation.

Moore’s competence caused some Phillies fans to scratch their heads. He wasn’t a great MLB starter, but he suddenly wasn’t a punchline for fans and media.

On August 14, Moore threw six innings without allowing a hit against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park. Although he was lifted from the game without a chance to complete the no-hitter, he gave the Phillies his best start in years.

What will the Phillies do with Moore?

The return of Eflin and the conversion of Ranger Suárez back into a starter forced Moore out of the rotation. However, he will still have a role in the National League East pennant race.

The Phillies are thin on left-handed relievers given a recent injury to Jose Alverado. Moore and recently returned Bailey Falter will be the primary southpaws available for Girardi in the short term.

Phillies fans will not count on Moore as a player who’s going to get them over the hump and into the playoffs. However, his truly bizarre trip through the 2021 season goes to show the overall intriguing unpredictability of major league pitchers.