Last night after the game, Joe Maddon spoke about Matt Moore’s struggle with commanding his fastball…

“I think a lot [his pitch count] has to do with commanding the fastball where he wants to. They were kinda strikes, but they weren’t exactly where he wanted them to be strikes…I think the real key is to be able to throw the fastball where he wants to with a little more consistency.”

Like most pitchers, Moore throws two fastballs, a four-seamer (typically harder/straighter), and what appears to be a two-seamer* (typically slower, more movement). Moore averages about 95 mph with both pitches. And both have a ton of natural movement, getting 10″ of horizontal movement with the four-seamer, and a whopping 13″ with the two-seamer. For comparison, James Shields gets just 5″ of break on his four-seamer, and 8″ on his two-seamer.

The problem is, Moore gets so much movement on his fastballs (especially his two-seamer), that he at times has trouble controlling that pitch.

Here is an example from last night of a two-seam fastball. Notice the direction the ball is traveling as it leaves his hand, and the direction it is traveling as it reaches the mitt, which is now located in the other batter’s box…

And here are those frames overlaid on top of each other…

First of all, wow. That’s just nasty stuff when it is traveling 96 mph. But more importantly, if that pitch has half as much movement, it probably catches the outside corner, or at least looks a lot more tempting to the hitter.

As Maddon pointed out, a big problem is commanding that movement in the strikezone. But he also struggled just keep the pitch in the zone. Only 48 of his 70 fastballs were strikes. And less than half (9 of 19) of his two-seamers found the strikezone.

If Moore cannot harness this pitch, we see two possible solutions: 1) Abandon the two-seamer. His four-seamer already has more natural movement than a lot of pitchers’ two-seamers; or 2) Take 2-3 mph off the pitch, which in turn will deflate some of the movement.

Otherwise, it will get to the point where Moore is just guessing where the pitch is going. And when that happens, he becomes Victor Zambrano. And that’s not good for anybody.

* As was mentioned in the comments, I have heard that Moore only throws a 4-seamer. However, there are clearly two different fastballs being thrown by Moore, and if it is not the seams, there is something else he is doing differently on the fastballs that have a lot more sink and horizontal movement.




  1. Michael says:

    Cork, Moore only throws a four seam fastball, but it just has crazy movement that it is often classified as a 2 seamer. As the season progresses, his command of the pitch should improve, as it has done in years past.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      If he is indeed just throwing 4-seamers, he is throwing it two different ways. Just watching the games, you can see there are clearly two different versions of the pitch, one that has an enormous amount of tail (the one shown here) and one that has a lot less sink to it. Either way, it is the tailing fastball that is killing him.

      And on the off chance it is all just one pitch thrown exactly the same way, he has a bigger problem. That means there is no consistency at all.

    • Chris says:

      Definitely two different pitches. I dont know how to put the plot here, but if you look at a plot of horizontal movement, you can see a cluster of pitches in one spot, and a cluster in another spot, with little overlap. If it were just one pitch with some pitches at the extremes, it would look more like one big blob with most in the middle (imagine a bell curve), or at least a lot more overlap.

      Michael, maybe he added a 2 seamer this year?

      • Cork Gaines says:

        Here you go. This is from last night. Does appear to be more like a figure eight with the two-seamers on the right. But again, doesn't necessarily mean they aren't all four-seamers. But he is definitely doing something different on those pitches that are moving more.

  2. Andy says:

    Damn, reading this blog has become scary! 1st you say Price may become Kazmir-like; now Moore may become like Zambrano?!?! Only thing good about either statement is the consistency - you stayed in the same trade. Sure hope you haven't hexed these guys!!! :#{

  3. Dave L says:

    I think so many Rays fans are expecting too much of him. He has only had a handful of ML starts. Really good young pitchers usually start out throwing too many balls and trying to be perfect and have trouble getting past the 6th or 7th inning even in good starts where they arent getting hit.

    And smart managers always take them out a little early when things are going well to keep thier confidence up and to protect them from getting hit late cause they will take it much worse than a guy with experience.

    This is what I expected of him. I didn't expect an instant Sandy Koufax


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