SAN FRANCISCO–On October 11, 2016, Matt Moore looked like he was every bit of a factor in the Giants’ long term plans. The left-hander allowed one earned run in eight innings in Game 4 of the 2016 NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, exiting to a heroes’ roar from a sellout crowd at AT&T Park.
Moore faced the Cubs at AT&T Park again on Monday, and it’s clear that he’s still searching for that magic he has shown through his career and in that NLDS start nearly 10 months earlier. In six innings of work, Moore allowed five runs in the Giants’ 5-3 loss to Chicago.
It’s the latest rocky start in a 2017 season that hasn’t been kind to Moore, so much to the point that the Giants are considering skipping his turn in the rotation.
“I think you have to think about it,” Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said prior to Tuesday’s game. “You’d be crazy not to, to see if that helps get him going.”
Monday’s loss moved Moore’s record to 3-12 on the season. The 28-year-old has a 5.88 ERA on the season, a steep increase from his 4.08 ERA in 2016.
Not many saw this significant of a drop in performance coming from Moore in 2017. It mirrors the season the Giants have put together, as they sit at the bottom of the National League West and out of playoff contention with a 44-70 record.
Moore has been wildly inconsistent throughout the season, and it isn’t the first time that the Giants have considered skipping his spot in the rotation.
“Earlier (in the season) it was thought about. He came out of it, started throwing the ball better,” Bochy said.
Moore’s best stretch of the season came at the end of May, in which he pitched at least six innings and allowed no more than three runs in a string of four consecutive starts.
Otherwise, Moore has rarely found any sort of rhythm over an extended period of time during the season.
Even worse, the most alarming part of Moore’s rocky season has arguably been his inability to retire left-handed batters, who are hitting .396 off Moore throughout the 2017 season.
“We really have to fix this left-handed deal,” Bochy said following Monday’s game. “Lefties are having too much success off of him. He has too good of stuff to have left-handers hit like this.”
Moore’s struggles against left-handed bats is just one part of his game that he’s looking to fix. Through it all, however, the Giants have maintained their confidence in the pitcher that they acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays at last season’s trade deadline.
The Giants have club options on Moore through the end of the 2019 season, so Moore will have to show the organization that he can be a reliable part of the staff moving forward.
A strong finish to the 2017 season would greatly help his case. If the Giants do elect to pursue this course of action, time will tell if skipping Moore’s spot in the rotation can be the key to help him get back on track.