Jamie Moyer Proving He Has Real Value Beyond the Feel Good Story

Ian CasselberryMLB Lead WriterMarch 23, 2012

Who are you calling a geezer? Jamie Moyer is chasing his 25th season in the bigs.
Who are you calling a geezer? Jamie Moyer is chasing his 25th season in the bigs.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Regardless of the result, Jamie Moyer's start for the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night was going to be a spectacle.

At the age of 49, Moyer is attempting to win a spot in the Rockies' starting rotation. If that wasn't implausible enough, he's also approximately 16 months removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery, having torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow while pitching in the Dominican Republic.

Taking his age and condition into consideration, Moyer might as well have "Longshot" sewn on the back of his jersey in place of his last name. Yet he signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies in January, hoping to earn a job with his eighth major league team for what would be his 25th season in the bigs. 

The Rockies have an opening for the fifth spot in their rotation, so the opportunity is there. But is Moyer up to the task of beating out much younger competition for that job? He certainly looked like it on Thursday.

Facing the San Francisco Giants, Moyer was masterful. In four innings, he didn't allow a run or a hit. Perhaps more impressively, Moyer also notched four strikeouts. Of his 45 pitches, 30 of them were thrown for strikes.

Moyer likely won't pitch that well against every lineup he might face. (There were plenty of cracks from Giants fans on Twitter about how this was a typical effort for their low-scoring team. And conspiratorial theories supposing that this was an attempt to make Moyer look better so that the Rockies would add him to their rotation, and then the Giants could pound him in the regular season.)

But if he can give Colorado 20 to 25 starts and 150 innings at the back end of the rotation and provide a crafty veteran presence for a young pitching staff, Moyer won't just be a cute subject for a fluffy feature story on ESPN or the FOX pregame show. He'll make a major contribution that helps the Rockies contend in the NL West. 

If those four perfect innings on Thursday weren't enough to warrant consideration for a starting role, Moyer's chances were helped by Guillermo Moscoso's meltdown in the Rockies' other Cactus League game on Thursday. 

Moscoso, acquired this winter from the Oakland Athletics, likely pitched himself out of competition for that fifth starter spot by allowing five runs, seven hits and three walks in three innings of work against the San Diego Padres. In 11 innings this spring, he's allowed 10 runs and 17 hits, compiling a 7.36 ERA. 

But Moyer hasn't broken the tape yet in this race. Tyler Chatwood, who came over from the Los Angeles Angels in a trade for catcher Chris Ianetta, could be the favorite to win that last slot in the rotation.

The 22-year-old has pitched well this spring, allowing three runs and eight hits in seven innings of work. Chatwood threw 142 innings for the Angels last year in his rookie season, and that durability—along with the age difference, of course—could give him an edge over Moyer.

The first four spots in the Rockies' starting rotation look to be established with Jeremy Guthrie (who has been named the Opening Day starter), Gustavo Chacin, Juan Nicasio (who had neck surgery in August after taking a line drive off his head) and Drew Pomeranz (one of the pitchers acquired in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade).