Why the Marlins claimed Matt Moore

The well-traveled, well-rested reliever reinforces the Marlins bullpen for their final 10 regular season games.

The Miami Marlins got shut out on August 31. Sure, they beat the Washington Nationals, 6-1, but off the field, they were denied in their attempt to supplement their team with waiver-wire veterans on the last day that they could be postseason-eligible for their new teams.

The Marlins had interest in Los Angeles Angels pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo López and Matt Moore. All three became Cleveland Guardians instead because the Guardians had the lower winning percentage, putting them ahead of the Marlins in the waiver claim order.

The infusion of experienced arms did little to help Cleveland’s slim AL Central title chances. On Sunday (with those odds down to 0.1%, per FanGraphs), the Guardians placed Moore back on waivers, inviting any team to take responsibility for what remained of his $7.55 million salary (approx. $528k). The Marlins nibbled again and were awarded the claim on Tuesday when no inferior teams got in their way.

In his second campaign as a full-time reliever, the 34-year-old lefty has been great: 2.77 ERA, 3.77 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 1.27 WPA in 48.2 IP. Moore’s changeup is currently his best weapon, leading to extreme reverse splits—right-handed batters have slashed .214/.268/.336 with a 32.2% strikeout rate.

Moore’s 2023 Statcast percentile rankings | Baseball Savant

Moore has struggled recently. The batting average against him over the last 30 days (min. 8.0 IP) is among the highest in the majors. He has allowed baserunners in 12 of his last 13 appearances despite all but one of those appearances being a single inning or less. The upside of this claim isn’t particularly high even if Moore snaps out of this slump because, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, players who change organizations in September don’t have postseason eligibility.

That being said, Moore’s arm is fresh after pitching only one inning during his final week on the Guardians roster. Combining that with his strong track record when working back-to-back days, there is nothing stopping Moore from appearing in at least five of the 10 remaining Marlins regular season games from Wednesday onward (he is not available for Tuesday’s game against the Mets). With so much of his slump attributable to an inflated BABIP, it is entirely possible that he’ll straighten himself out in a hurry.

With Chi Chi González occupying a bullpen spot based on necessity rather than merit, Steven Okert struggling even more than Moore and Tanner Scott potentially missing games down the stretch while on the paternity list (his first child is due soon), claiming Moore was a no-brainer move for Miami.

Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

One response to “Why the Marlins claimed Matt Moore”

  1. Cannot fault the Marlins’ aggressiveness. Tangibly, a good move, and perhaps even a better omen of ownership’s intentions.

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