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« Comparing Sabathia Seasons | Main | Looking When it Counts »

Moore Mows Down Yankees

Matt Moore didn't face a full-strength Yankees lineup last night, as the AL East division champs gave regulars Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Alex Rodriguez a rest. But even so, the left-handed uber-prospect's first MLB start was dominant: he struck out 11 batters and walked just one in five innings pitched, never allowing a Yankee to get within 90 feet of home plate.

Moore showed off the stuff that has allowed him to ascend from an eighth-round pick out of a New Mexico high school in 2007 to a force who struck out nearly 13 batters per nine innings in the minors. He threw his fastball, which averaged 94-95 MPH and topped out at 97, over 70 percent of the time. Moore blew the pitch by Yankee batters high in the strike zone:

Location of Moore's fastball vs. Yankees, 9/22/11

His fastball really moved, tailing in on lefty hitters (away from righties) 10 inches compared to a pitch thrown without spin and showing about 11 inches of vertical break. Frankly, it's hard to find other lefties with Moore's combination of fastball velocity and movement. But teammate David Price and Texas' Derek Holland are good comps.

Moore also mixed in a mid-80s changeup that had similar tail to his fastball but sat 4-5 inches lower in the zone, and a short low-80s breaking ball. Here's a look at the velocity and pitch break of Moore's stuff. His changeup mirrored his fastball well and was comparable in velocity and movement to that of Cole Hamels:

Velocity and pitch break of Moore's pitches, 9/22/11 

Six of Moore's 11 Ks came on fastballs, four were on sliders/curves and one came on the changeup. Ten of those 11 whiffs were of the swinging variety. Overall, Bombers batters missed 18 times in 43 swings (42 percent).

According to Baseball-Reference, Moore became the 23rd pitcher in MLB history to record double-digit Ks in his first career start. Here's the full list:

Hall of Famers, phenoms who succumbed to injury, flukes -- they're all on this list. But, given Moore's awesome talent and bat-missing track record, we could be witnessing the beginnings of a perennial All-Star career. Health, as always, permitting.

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