|Moore continues to need too many pitches to get through innings. (Getty Images)|
Rays starter Matt Moore could only get through four innings in a pivotal start against the Orioles Tuesday night in Baltimore. Having allowed four hits and two earned runs, it's not like he was chased from the game after getting shelled. No, his problem was one that's been a bit of a theme this season: Inefficiency.
Moore threw 94 pitches in those four innings, a whopping 23.5 pitches per inning, which is almost double where the elite pitchers in baseball would like to be. Moore was heavily hyped as a special talent heading into the season -- and I still believe he gets there -- but for now he needs to find a way to work deeper into games for his team. In order to do so, he needs to have many more low pitch-count innings.
This isn't anything new, as Tuesday night was a simple continuation. Moore is averaging just a tick under six innings pitched per start and has only thrown more than seven innings twice. He's only been able to complete the seventh six times in 28 starts. Despite the lack of heavy innings loads, Moore has still thrown over 100 pitches 16 times and he's only thrown less than 90 once (87 pitches on Aug. 19).
A major culprit is deep counts. Moore strikes out almost a batter per inning (165 K in 166 1/3 innings) but also walks too many hitters (73, which is 3.95 per nine innings). It's pretty obvious that high-strikeout/walk guys are going to have higher pitch counts per inning than those who pitch to contact, but Moore could still stand to be much more efficient.
Moore's rookie season hasn't been bad by any stretch. He is 10-10 with a 3.68 ERA and a high strikeout rate (8.93 K/9), this coming mostly against the stiff offensive competition provided by the AL East. He's vastly improved in many areas since a poor start, but his efficiency has not.
Until that issue is solved, he'll continue to simply be good, instead of the special talent we expected to see. The smart money is on him figuring it out eventually, but the Rays need him to figure it out immediately, lest they miss the playoffs by a game or two.