The last time there was a 23-year-old (or younger) left-hander that began the season 8-0, it was 1922 and the pitcher’s name was Babe Ruth. On Sunday, Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore joined Ruth with an 8-0 start and became the first pitcher in 2013 with 8 wins.
Moore tossed 7 quality innings on Sunday to lead Tampa Bay to a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards. He allowed just 5 hits, 1 earned run, and struck out 3 Orioles in the win, and in the process, lowered his ERA to a sparkling 2.29. The most encouraging part of this particular start for Moore was the absence of walks, as Moore lowered his walk-rate from 4.69 per 9 innings to 4.25 per 9 innings after Sunday’s action.
It was the 9th consecutive winning decision for Moore (dating back to 2012), and he has now won 8 of his first 9 starts during the 2013 campaign. As a 23-year-old, it is a surprise that he is producing at this lofty rate, but with his high-end pedigree, the results aren’t a complete shock. He has an impressive strikeout rate of 8.84 per 9 innings, and while his FIP (4.19) and xFIP (4.25) indicate that he’s been a bit lucky (mostly due to the high walk rate), Moore has staying power with his arsenal of quality “stuff”.
For the Rays, Moore has now been responsible for more than one-third of the team’s win total (23 wins), and they are in dire need of pitching help in the absence of Cy Young winner David Price. No Tampa Bay hitter garnered more than one hit during Sunday’s win, but it was a balanced attack, as only Jose Lobaton failed to reach base, and they were able to generate the 3 runs needed to grab a win.
On this pace, Moore is on track to soar past 25 wins on the year, and while that is (obviously) unlikely, there is no reason to think that he couldn’t push the 20-win milestone. At 23 years old, the best is yet to come for the power left-hander, but it’s been a magical start to his sophomore campaign.