Reflecting on the Phillies’ Gamble on Matt Moore

MLB: AUG 14 Reds at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 14: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Matt Moore (48) pitches during the Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds( on August 14, 2021 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

On February 3, 2021, the Philadelphia Phillies signed journeymen left-handed starting pitcher Matt Moore to a one-year contract. Moore, a veteran with multiple stops around the league, seemed like a low-risk high reward for a Phillies staff that was lacking arms.

The left-hander had spent the previous season playing in Japan for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. In a solid stint with the Hawks, Matt Moore posted a 6-3 win-loss record with a 2.65 ERA and 89 strikeouts. Phillies GM Dave Dombrowski decided to take a shot and bring Matt Moore to Philly. Matt Moore’s Phillies career proved to be a more low-risk signing than it did high reward.

Setting the Tone Early

To start the season, Matt Moore was a member of the Phillies starting rotation. It was the first time since Cole Hamels in 2015 that the Phillies would have a left-handed starter on their Opening Day roster.

Moore would make his first start as a Phil on April 5th against the New York Mets. Manager Joe Girardi would provide the quick hook as Matt Moore’s day was finished after just 74 pitches. He would exit his first start with 3.1 innings pitched, 4 hits allowed, and 2 earned runs.

The veteran would not stay in the game long enough to earn the decision. His next two starts would result in less than impressive performances. Following his first three starts, Moore would be removed from the starting rotation and be replaced by Vince Velaquez.

Covid and a Bad Back

Once April rolled around, Moore ended up on the COVID-19 list. Because of this, he would not return to in-game action until May 5th, in a relief appearance against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The once starter would become a reliever for the club for a couple of weeks before exiting a game with back spasms. That would send Moore to the injured list for a month and his next appearance would take place on June 25th, where he started against the Mets in a doubleheader.

Moore would get a chance to remain in the starting rotation for the rest of the season, although his starts were not always guaranteed week to week.

Thank you, Next

Matt Moore would finish his season in Philadelphia with a 2-4 record in 24 appearances. His 6.29 earned run average was certainly not what Dave Dombrowski was hoping for after making the move to sign Matt in the off-season.

The experiment was worth a shot considering the Phillies did not have too many other options. Once the lockout ends and free agency resumes, I would anticipate a similar move or two to be made by Dombrowski.

The Phillies still have a huge need for starting pitching depth and they won’t be receiving that from the minor leagues anytime soon. While Matt Moore might be done in Philly, don’t expect the one-year contracts to veteran starters to disappear anytime soon.

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire