Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Moore Falls Just Short

Friday, August 26, 2016


This was not the article I was planning to write. When I sat down for Friday’s Daily Dose, I started writing about Andrew Benintendi and what his injury means for the Red Sox. I devoted several paragraphs to this subject, but you’ll never see them. They’re buried in a Microsoft Word document that will never see the light of day.

 

Why did I scrap the Benintendi story? Because Thursday night belonged to Matt Moore and nobody else.

 

I’ll be honest. At first, I was secretly hoping Moore would lose his no-hit bid in the sixth or seventh inning so I could finish the Benintendi story and maybe get a few hours of sleep (if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that sleep has been hard to come by this week). But by the eighth inning, I had completely changed my tune. The Dodgers kept battling but Moore wouldn’t let up. It felt like Moore’s night to do something special and who was I to stand in his way?

 

You read the headline. You know Moore didn’t get the no-hitter. But man did he come close. The left-hander kept Los Angeles out of the hit column until the ninth inning when Corey Seager blooped a two-out single to right field. Denard Span made a brilliant catch to preserve the no-hitter for the first out of the ninth inning, but his effort was wasted. There’s no shame in giving up a hit to a budding superstar like Seager, but the abrupt ending had to be a disappointment for Moore, who has seen plenty of peaks and valleys in his short career.

 

Moore was a phenom when he arrived with the Rays in 2011 and earned an All-Star nod only two years later. That’s about the time his career was stalled by Tommy John surgery, which forced Moore to sit out most of the 2014 campaign. Since then, Moore’s successes have been few and far between. In 2015, Moore earned a minor league demotion as well as the distinction of allowing David Ortiz’s 500th home run. Moore has seen better results in 2016, particularly in July when he cruised to a 2.41 ERA and began attracting trade interest. Looking to fend off a second-half slump, the Giants acquired Moore to boost their starting rotation. Sunday’s gem was Moore’s first win in a Giants uniform after going winless in his previous four starts.

 

Moore’s approach on the mound has often been described as “effectively wild.” I doubt that’s what Moore had in mind when he decided to pursue baseball as a career, but the label suits him. Moore has yielded 60 free passes this year, tying him with James Shields and Hector Santiago for 10th-most in the major leagues. Even Thursday when he was at his most dominant, Moore occasionally struggled to throw strikes. He issued three walks and worked deep in counts to several hitters including Chase Utley, who grinded out a 10-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning.

 

Moore’s high pitch count Thursday had manager Bruce Bochy on edge. The left-hander sat at 119 pitches through eight innings, his most since June 25, 2013 when he logged a career-high 120 pitches against Toronto. Under almost any other circumstance Bochy certainly would have pulled the plug, but with Moore nearing his first no-hitter, he decided to let him chase down history. Bochy handled Madison Bumgarner the same way when he was five outs from a no-hitter earlier this year. At least the man’s consistent.

 

Seager ended the no-no on Moore’s 133rd pitch of the night. That’s the most pitches thrown by anyone in the major leagues this season. Only time will tell if Bochy made a mistake by leaving Moore in the game, but history isn’t on his side. Edwin Jackson famously hurled 148 pitches during his no-hitter in 2010. He managed just four wins over his next 16 starts while supplying a lackluster 4.30 ERA. Tim Lincecum threw the same number of pitches in his no-hitter in 2013, though he was fortunate to have a 10-day layoff because of the All-Star break. Even then, he could only muster a sluggish 4.54 ERA over his final 13 starts.

 

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While Thursday was certainly a stressful evening for Bochy, the Dodgers may have been dealing with even more turmoil in their dugout. Emotions were high Thursday after the Dodgers traded long-time catcher and clubhouse favorite A.J. Ellis to the Phillies in exchange for Carlos Ruiz. Minor league right-hander Tommy Bergjans was also sent to Philadelphia along with a player to be named later.

 

Ellis’ offensive contributions have always been minimal. He’s homered only once in 139 at-bats this year and carries a .237 lifetime average. But his leadership role and rapport with Clayton Kershaw, who has used Ellis as his personal catcher for most of his career, made him an invaluable member of the franchise. His departure seemed to send shock waves through the organization. Kershaw, who was not consulted about the trade, broke down in tears when he learned the news. Closer Kenley Jansen agreed that Thursday was a “sad day” in the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

 

Ellis had been with the Dodgers’ organization since 2003 when he was drafted as an 18th-round pick out of Austin Peay. Ruiz’s tenure with the Phillies’ organization was even longer. The Panama native signed with the Phillies in 1998 when he was only 19 years old. He didn’t make the big leagues for several more years but has been a mainstay there since making his debut in 2006. Chooch was the starting catcher for two pennant-winning teams and famously caught the last out of the 2008 World Series. Overall, he hit .266 with 68 homers and 401 RBI during his 11-year stay in the City of Brotherly Love.

 

For fantasy owners taking inventory, Thursday’s trade won’t move the needle much. Yasmani Grandal is still the obvious starter in L.A. thanks to his improved power (21 HR, .482 slugging percentage) while Cameron Rupp will continue to handle most of Philadelphia’s work behind the plate. But for nostalgia worshippers and stubborn fans who don’t like to see change (that’s most of us, right?), Thursday’s trade marked the end of an era. With Ruiz headed to the West Coast, Ryan Howard is the only Phillie that remains from the team that won it all in 2008. Now that Howard has been reduced to a bench role this year, he could be on his way out too.

 

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AL Quick Hits: Jose Bautista returned from the disabled list Thursday after missing the minimum 15 days with a sprained left knee. He went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI in Toronto’s 6-3 loss to the Angels … Michael Saunders was absent from Thursday’s lineup because of a tight hamstring. The 29-year-old has posted an ugly .174 batting average since the All-Star break … Carlos Gomez was having a terrible year before the Astros released him earlier this month. So of course he belted a three-run homer in his first at-bat for the Rangers on Thursday night … James Paxton scattered seven hits and three runs over five innings of work Thursday in his return from the disabled list. Paxton missed about two weeks with a bruised elbow … Eduardo Rodriguez will return to Boston’s starting rotation Sunday against the Royals. He had his last turn in the rotation skipped because of hamstring tightness. With Rodriguez set to return, Clay Buchholz will move back to the bullpen … Jordan Zimmermann will begin a rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo on Friday. He’s been on the disabled list with a strained lat since August 6 … Joe Mauer hasn’t played since Tuesday because of quad soreness. The 33-year-old has hit a respectable .276 this year with 10 homers and 45 RBI … Chris Tillman is expected to throw off flat ground on Tuesday. He’s been dealing with shoulder inflammation but is hoping to return from the DL as soon as his 15 days are up.

 

NL Quick Hits: Jay Bruce got the night off Thursday against the Cardinals. He’s still sore from leaving Wednesday’s game with calf cramps. Bruce has hit just .169 over 77 at-bats since joining the Mets at the trade deadline … Mets manager Terry Collins said Jacob deGrom looks “run down” after losing his last two starts. The Mets have considered pushing his next start back to give him an extra day or two of rest … Alejandro De Aza plated a career-high five runs in Thursday’s win over the Cardinals. De Aza drove in five runs total over the season’s first three months … The Diamondbacks have moved Daniel Hudson into the closer role. The team has had a difficult time replacing Brad Ziegler in the ninth inning. Jake Barrett and Enrique Burgos were both given chances to seize the closer job before it fell to Hudson … A.J. Pollock is expected to make his season debut on Friday after missing the first five months of the season with a fractured elbow he suffered in spring training, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Pollock will play two out of every three games when he returns … Matt Moore wasn’t the only one to flirt with a no-hitter on Thursday. Braves starter Matt Wisler didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning when Paul Goldschmidt ended the no-hit bid with a leadoff single to center field … Andre Ethier began a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday night. Ethier hasn’t played since breaking his tibia in spring training. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles in his first game for the Quakes … According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Dodgers have “rebuffed” multiple trade offers for Yasiel Puig. He’s been on a roll since his demotion, hitting .386 with four homers and 12 RBI over 57 at-bats for Triple-A Oklahoma City … Oswaldo Arcia was designated for assignment Thursday to make room on the roster for Jeff Francoeur, who the Marlins acquired in a trade with Atlanta. Arcia appeared in only one game before getting axed.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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