Last season we wondered when the Rays would start to simplify Matt Moore’s delivery as they had previously done with David Price with much success.
Turns out the answer was “very soon,” as in the 2014 season.
The new windup is not nearly as simplified as Price’s has become. But the changes are significant. Let’s take a look.
Here is Moore’s windup from June of last year (left) and from his most recent spring training start (right).
But there are also some changes to the actual motion. Let’s slow it down and then take a closer look at some specific points.
The next big difference is the hands. While the Rays got Price to stop lifting the glove above his head, Moore is still doing that. But now he is starting his hands much sooner.
Previously, Moore would step back and then lift his hands. Now he is starting to lift his hands as soon as he steps.
This next difference is more difficult to show in a single frame. Last year, when Moore stepped back with his right foot, there was much more movement backwards.
In addition to his body moving back more, his left foot came up and actually slid back towards towards the right foot before going back down. Now, that left foot just comes up a tad and then immediately goes back down. This is reminiscent of a batter shortening his stride.
Now we get to the leg raise. The most obvious difference is that Moore does not lift his knee quite as high as before.
There are also a couple of subtle differences here. Notice the right foot. Last year, Moore’s foot was pointed more towards the ground. Now the toes are pointing up. If this change is intentional, it could be a sign that Moore was having trouble with the consistency of how that foot landed on the move home.
The other difference is the left elbow now appears to be higher and the upper-arm is more parallel to the ground. This one I am less sure about because the camera angles are not exactly the same. But now the left forearm appears to be at more of an angle (pointing less up).
The final difference is also one that may just be an illusion created by different camera angles. These two frames are also a fraction of a second off (notice ball is out of the hand on the right)
But it looks like there is a slight difference in the release point, something we will be able to verify once the season starts.
On the left, notice that you can draw a straight line through the left arm and both shoulders. This year, it looks like he may be releasing the ball an inch higher or so. If true, that may reduce the amount of horizontal movement on his pitches and help him to better locate the ball side-to-side.
Like Price, the big advantage to the changes is that there is less that can go wrong.
The entire motion from beginning to end can impact where the ball ends up after traveling 60-feet, 6-inches. Moore has tightened up the package and now has a better chance of keeping his mechanics consistent.