Game #4: April 6, 2016 – 1:10 ET
J.A. Happ (11-8, 3.61 ERA, 3.41 FIP) vs.
Matt Moore (3-4, 5.43 ERA, 4.82 FIP)
Wednesday’s matinee finale should see a battle of the lefties in J.A. Happ and Matt Moore, giving Blue Jays fans their first look of the Second Happ Age.
After signing very early in free agency for $36 million over three years, Happ has enjoyed a fairly quiet spring. With his spot in the rotation guaranteed, Happ pitched just 10.1 innings over three games in Major League spring training, instead doing some of his work on the Minor League side.
The question with him, of course, is which version of the 2015 Happ the Blue Jays are getting their hands on.
After starting out sluggishly with the Seattle Mariners (where he was dealt for Michael Saunders), his season took off following a trade deadline deal to the Pittsburgh Pirates where pitching guru Ray Searage awaited with open arms. In the 11 starts following the trade, Happ post a 1.85 ERA with 9.6 K/9 (well above his career strikeout rate).
In Moore, the Blue Jays are facing another southpaw that’s difficult to project. After holding great promise earlier in his career, the 26-year old enters 2016 looking to re-establish himself in his first full season after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
After returning midway through last season, Moore struggled out of the gates with his newly-altered mechanics, pitching 63.0 Major League innings with a 5.43 ERA. He threw another 51.1 innings on the Minor League side (A+, AAA), so in terms of workload, it was a nice return for Moore.
The key for Moore will be rediscovering the excellent changeup that he threw nearly 20% of the time pre-TJ. He will top out around 93 miles-per-hour with his fastball, also featuring a seldom-used cutter and a curveball that rests around 80.
It’s encouraging to see his velocity back after the surgery, but for a pitcher like Moore who allows a lot of balls hit in the air, the Blue Jays lineup is one dangerous matchup.