Matt Moore’s All-Star Process Versus Joe Mauer | The Process Report

Matt Moore’s All-Star Process Versus Joe Mauer

Earlier today the Rays announced Matt Moore‘s addition to the American League All-Star team, replacing the injured Yu Darvish. The 24-year-old goes into the midsummer classic with a record of 13-3, a 3.44 ERA, and 108 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings. His walk rate is one of the highest in the league; however, his batting average against is tied for the lowest among qualified left-handed starters. All-Star selections are superficial measurements of success, but good on Moore for creating the chance to experience a special event.

Prior to the announcement, Moore faced the Twins in an afternoon series finale. The results were once again stellar. He worked into the eighth inning, allowing three runs (two runs scored after he left the game) on three hits and two walks. He struck out 10 batters and tossed 67 strikes out of 106 pitches.

This weekend, I highlighted a slight alternation in Moore’s pitch selection. He still leads with a plus fastball, but the changeup has overtaken the breaking ball in terms of usage. Against the White Sox, he also added a same-side changeup with a fair amount of success.

Moore executed a similar game plan against Minnesota. Changeups accounted for a quarter of his pitches including several to left-handed batters. On Saturday, he used the off-speed pitch to finish a pair of strikeouts against the left-handed Adam Dunn. He did the same versus the Twins’ lefty Joe Mauer on Thursday.

In the first inning, Moore struck out Mauer on three pitches. He started the encounter with a fastball for a called strike. He then went inside with a belt-high changeup, causing a ill-timed swing for strike two. He doubled up on the changeup—over the plate and down—for a swinging strike three. Mauer won the second round with a two-out walk in the fourth inning, but Moore would win the day with a sixth-inning knockout. Like the first inning, Moore started the plate appearance with a called strike on a fastball before jumping ahead 0-2 with a whiff on a changeup. Mauer fouled off a fastball before going down swinging on an inside changeup at the knees.

Mauer has struck out a bit more than usual this season, but the pair of strikeouts against Moore marked a few seasonal firsts. It was the first time(s) that he struck out on four pitches or less. It was also the first time(s) he was punched out by a left-handed pitcher on a changeup. It was just the fourth and fifth times he struck out on changeups overall.

The same-side changeup strategy has been paid early dividends for Moore and the Rays. We’ll see if they continue to invest in it during the second half of the season.

By Tommy Rancel

Data courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info.

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