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Game Notes: Act Two of Three in the Race to the Bottom

Matt Moore looks to get a grip against Joe Kelly and the Sox

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

When Matt Moore made his much anticipated return from Tommy John surgery on July 2, the Tampa Bay Rays were three games over .500 and only one game behind the division-leading New York Yankees. Riding a four game losing streak and  having lost eight of their previous ten games, the scuttling Rays were in desperate need of a pick-me-up.

Moore's return from the disabled list was suppose to be the healthy dose of rejuvenation that the doctor ordered. One month and five starts later, it has become evident that the Rays were participants in a clinical trial and that they merely received a placebo which delivered no physical or psychological benefits.

Here is a look at Moore's five outings in 2015:

Date Team Innings Pitched Hits Earned Runs Walks Hit Batters Pitches Strikes Balls
July 2 Indians 4.2 6 4 2 0 81 53 28
July 7 Royals 4.1 9 4 2 2 85 50 35
July 12 Astros 5.0 5 3 3 0 88 54 34
July 20 Phillies 4.2 5 4 3 0 83 48 35
July 26 Orioles 5.0 8 5 2 1 87 54 33

And here is what his stat line looks like as a result:

Wins Loses Games Games Started Innings Pitched K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP xFIP
1 2 5 5 23.2 5.70 4.56 1.14 7.61 5.36 5.68

Moore's struggles are rooted in his inability to control his repertoire. Although his walk rate of 4.56 per nine innings is nearly identical to his walk rate in 2013, Moore has been unable to consistently hit the target provided by his catcher. There have been vast discrepancies in where his catcher has set up and where he has delivered the pitch. The opposing batters have capitalized on these mistakes.

The 26-year-old southpaw has surrendered three home runs this season and in each circumstance he has missed his catcher's target by a substantial margin.

Rene Rivera sets up low and away, Moore delivers his fastball up around the letters.

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Curt Casali sets up low and inside, Moore delivers his fastball high and inside.

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Casali sets up low and away, Moore delivers his fastball low and inside.

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Moore will get another chance to tame his arsenal in today's game against the Boston Red Sox. After dropping last night's opener, the Rays and the Red Sox appear to be fully engaged in a bloody battle for the cellar of the American League East.

The Red Sox will send Joe Kelly to the mound.

First pitch is at 1:35.

<!-- BEGIN WIDGET --><div class="pane sports_data_widget lineup clearfix"><h3>Today's Lineups</h3><div class="lineup"><table cellspacing="0" class="zebra"><thead><tr><th align="left">TAMPA BAY RAYS</th><th align="left">BOSTON RED SOX</th></tr></thead><tbody><tr><td class="td-last td-name">John Jaso - DH</td><td class="td-first td-name">Brock Holt - 2B</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Steven Souza - RF</td><td class="td-first td-name">Xander Bogaerts - SS</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Evan Longoria - 3B</td><td class="td-first td-name">David Ortiz - DH</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">James Loney - 1B</td><td class="td-first td-name">Hanley Ramirez - LF</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Logan Forsythe - 2B</td><td class="td-first td-name">Mike Napoli - 1B</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Grady Sizemore - LF</td><td class="td-first td-name">Travis Shaw - 3B</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Asdrubal Cabrera - SS</td><td class="td-first td-name">Rusney Castillo - RF</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Kevin Kiermaier - CF</td><td class="td-first td-name">Ryan Hanigan - C</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Curt Casali - C</td><td class="td-first td-name">Jackie Bradley - CF</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name"></td><td class="td-first td-name"></td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Matt Moore - LHP</td><td class="td-first td-name">Joe Kelly - RHP</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><!-- END WIDGET -->

The Book on Joe Kelly

The Boston Red Sox, owners of the second highest earned run average in the American League, have the efforts of Joe Kelly to thank for their dubious ranking. Among American League pitchers who have logged at least 80 innings in 2015, Kelly's ERA of 5.94 is the second highest.

While his high velocity fastball (97 mph) has certainly helped him miss bats (7.34 K/9), the struggles with his command as well as the inconsistency of his secondary pitches have made him subject to the big inning.

The folks at Over the Monster are calling for his removal from the starting rotation, arguing that he would be more valuable pitching out of the bullpen.

Here is a look at his his 2015 stat line, followed by a look at his arsenal.

Wins Loses Games Games Started Innings Pitched K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP xFIP
2 6 16 16 83.1 7.34 3.46 1.19 5.94 4.43 4.08

Fourseam 97 mph

34.45% vs RHH


22.68% vs LHH

Middle of the plate and away. Middle of the plate and away.
Sinker 96 mph

38.05% vs RHH


45.23% vs LHH

Sporadic. Sporadic.
Change 86 mph

4.01% vs RHH


13.93% vs LHH

Low and away. Below the knees and on the outer half of the plate.
Slider 86 mph

16.42% vs RHH


5.70% vs LHH

Low and away. Low and inside.
Curve 80 mph

7.08% vs RHH


12.47% vs LHH

Low and away. Sporadic.