Matt Moore: Joe Maddon Puts Top Prospect on Mound in Game 1 for Rays

Jamal Wilburg@JWilburgCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 14: Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Tampa Bay Rays walks to the mound to remove pitcher Matt Moore #55 (C) after Moore gave up a two RBI home run to the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 14, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Rays 6-2. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Joe Maddon has no fear.

It takes a lot of confidence (or arrogance) to send a rookie with just over nine innings of major league baseball under his belt to the mound to start Game 1 of the ALDS.

Somehow, Maddon has that confidence and Matt Moore will get his second career start for the Tampa Bay Rays as they face the Texas Rangers.

"I don’t think we have qualms about doing anything," manager Joe Maddon said during his earlier news conference when asked about the possibility of starting Moore today. "I think that is one thing people have learned about us."

There is an advantage to sending Moore to the mound against the Rangers—aside from his ability to throw hot fire across the plate. The Rangers' hitters, like the Yankees' hitters at the end of the season, have no familiarity with his pitching, and there is minimal scouting available to them to prepare for Moore as well.

If Moore can get a quality start, it also provides for some flexibility within the rotation. After Moore and Shields finish Games 1 and 2, the Rays could manage to advance to the ALCS without sending David Price, Jeremy Hellickson or, possibly, Jeff Niemann to the mound—allowing them to keep two starters fresh.

If the Rays win the series in four games, they could close out the ALDS with Price and Niemann, for example. This would leave a fresh Jeremy Hellickson for Game 1 of the ALCS, with Shields and the rest of the rotation available to follow.

It also gives the flexibility to use starters in bullpen situations.

Joe Maddon may not only be the smartest man in the room, but the bravest as well.


Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Information from the Tampa Tribune was used in this article.

Follow his thoughts, insights, and ramblings on Twitter @JWilburg