Moore’s New Weapon
Matt Moore’s last outing was statistically uneventful. He did not complete six innings, permitted nine baserunners, a home run, and fought his fastball command throughout most of the outing. What did stand out was his unveiling of a new pitch.
Harry Pavlidis of BrooksBaseball and BaseballProspectus wrote about Matt Moore using a cutter. This was the first instance of Moore using a cutter while pitching for the Rays. Moore broke out the cutter to kick off his third full season, just as David Price did back in 2011. Price has predominately used his cutter to righties, using it 521 times against them while just 66 times to lefties. In both cases, Price prefers to work the outer corner (the back door) with his cutter rather than come inside with it.
For Moore, the plan appears to be slightly different as most of the cutters he threw in his last start were knocking on the front door and coming in and/or down to righties.
Given that it was the first time Moore brought the pitch with him into a regular season game, the inconsistent location of the pitch is understandable. Additionally, Moore fought his command most of the start so that would also show up in how he threw all of his pitches and not just his fastball. Jake McGee blamed his work on his cutter during spring training last season as one reason why his fastball command and early April results were so poor.
Moore’s career splits are rather small as there is just a 15-point difference in his wOBA to righties and lefties and his traditional slash line stats are within points of one another. He is more prone to home runs when facing righties, which accentuates the importance of locating his new toy. It is fine to miss on a front door cutter because it can back the batter off the plate to set up the next pitch low and away. Consider this 5th-inning sequence to Jonathon Diaz
- 1st pitch: fastball
- 2nd pitch: fastball
- 3rd pitch: changeup
- 4th pitch: cutter
- 5th pitch: changeup – ground ball out
A bad miss with a backdoor cutter, more often than not, results in four bases. As Moore continues working on this pitch, there will likely be some speed bumps. In the mean time, it gives hitters another pitch to think about while potentially allowing him to work deeper into games by inducing a few groundball outs rather than going for strikeouts.