Matt Moore is just 23 years old, yet he has over half-a-decade of dominance in professional baseball. From 2007-2011 Moore carved up the minor leagues, posting a 2.64 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 12.67 K/9, and 3.84 BB/9. The walks were a little on the high side, but that’s to be expected of a kid barely in his 20s with the strikeout ability Moore has displayed.
In a brief 9.1 innings out of the Rays’ pen in 2011, Moore continued to dominate. Last year he transitioned to the starting rotation, and for the first time in his professional career, he couldn’t strike out a batter per inning. Gasp!
If you take a closer look at Moore’s 2012 season, though, you’ll see all signs point toward him taking several big steps forward in 2013. Moore’s strikeout rate after the All-Star Break was a robust 9.15 K/9 compared to 8.67 before the break, and his walk rate in the second half was 3.59 BB/9, almost a full walk lower than his 4.52 first-half rate.
While Moore will probably continue to struggle with control over the next year or two, which will adversely affect his WHIP, he’s trending in the right direction and is probably the best pitching prospect keeper in the game right now.
At a Glance
Strengths: ERA, K, K/9, QS
Neutral: W, WHIP, L, BB
Best-case scenario: Gio Gonzalez (WAS)
Likely scenario: Jeff Samardzija (CHC), Tim Lincecum (SF), Max Scherzer (DET)
Worst-case scenario: Bud Norris (HOU)
Matt Moore 2013 Fantasy Projection
Moore will probably approach or exceed 200 innings, top 200 strikeouts, and hold batters to a very good OBA. Those things I am almost certain of, but what will ultimately decide how great Moore can be this year is his walk rate. If he can post a walk rate around 3.00 B/9, that should yield a WHIP of about 1.20. Anything under 3.00 should push him closer to the 1.12-1.17 range. I’m not sure he can really do much better than that.
And if Moore can get his walk rate (and, subsequently, his WHIP), then he’ll probably be a borderline top-50 player in fantasy. In one-year re-draft league’s it’s risky to take a player based on potential alone, but in keeper leagues I would feel comfortable taking Moore as one of the top 15 pitchers. He’s going to be a stud sometime in the near future. I don’t think it’ll be 2013, but it could be 2014.
His division is a serious concern, and I’d much rather he was in, say, the NL West, but the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t the offensive juggernauts they used to be, and while the Blue Jays and Orioles are on the rise, they’re not necessarily dominant teams (though Toronto’s offense has that potential).
I think a nice best-case scenario for Moore looks something like 16 W, 3.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 230 K in 20 IP with a worst-case scenario of about 11 W, 3.90 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 180 K in 180 IP. Moore will rack up the strikeouts, so it just comes down to how much he can limit the walks.