Following a June 25th loss to the Red Sox that saw Henderson Alvarez leave the game early due to an elbow strain, news broke that the Blue Jays had inked 49 year old Jamie Moyer to a minor league deal.
Moyer asked for his release from the Orioles following a 3 game stint with the team’s AAA club in Norfolk (International League). While playing for the Tides, Moyer pitched 16 innings collecting 16 Strikeouts and holding opposing batters to a .180 Batting Average, tallying up a 1.69 ERA during that span.
Following a week that saw the Blue Jays lose 3 of their 5 Starting Pitchers to the DL, Moyer felt that he had a better opportunity to get called up and pitch out of the rotation for Toronto.
A verbal agreement stated that Moyer would get a “couple” of starts for AAA Vegas before he would be re-evaluated and be considered for a shot in Toronto’s weakened rotation.
Well, it’s been 2 starts and the crafty left handed pitcher finds himself once again at 1-1 however this time his ERA is is on the wrong side of 4 at 8.18.
The Pacific Coast League is known to be a hitters paradise with it’s bandbox ball parks, rock hard infields and inflated ERA’s. Another lesser known fact about pitching in the PCL is the the problems that most pitchers have with thier breaking stuff.
The term “Crafty Lefty” often is given to a left handed pitcher that can spot the corners with his Fastball and get guys out with their “Junk” otherwise known as breaking pitches.
Moyer is no exception to this rule as he predominantly relies on a Sinker, Cut Fastball, Slow Curve and a Slider to get hitters back on the pine during his starts. His ability to locate with his pitches has been his strength and a big reason why he is still pitching (professionally) at the age of 49 with an 80 MPH Fastball.
If your Sinker doesn’t drop, Curve stays up and your Cutter refuses to Cut in missing the meat of the bat your left trying to spot the corners with the Fastball. No easy task to do 90 – 100 times a game.
Now I’m not saying that Moyer has been left with no breaking stuff in the PCL, just pointing out that the break is not as sharp as it would be pitching in other places in North America.
A brief look in to his stats while with the 51′s you can see that he has managed to strike out 9 while walking a mere 3 over 11 innings of work. During his time in the International league, Moyer never walked a batter in 16 innings managing to surrender a single Home Run. In the desert, Moyer has given up 3 long balls in 11 innings, 5 less IP’s of work.
Aside from the Home Runs, Moyer’s ERA does not reflect his work over the 2 games he has appeared in for the 51′s. Tuesday night saw Vegas drop 3 catch-able pop ups that were recorded as hits by the Reno score keeper… Hometown score keeping at it best. When all was said and done, Moyer exited the game having given up 7 “Earned Runs” in the loss.
Collectively, I believe that Moyer has earned a shot in the bigs, but is there room in Toronto?
Romero and Alvarez are a lock and as I write this, Villanueva is dealing vs the Royals. Cecil, despite having a rough outing vs LAA, has pitched well in his brief stint with the Jays in 2012 and Aaron Laffey is currently posting a 2.14 ERA on the season.
Barring an injury to one of the mentioned pitchers above, Moyer’s chances of seeing big league time as a starter is slim at best. That being said, a “Long Man” spot in the Bull Pen has been opened up following Villa’s move to the rotation however Perez is currently filling the role admirably.
Should Alvarez or Villanueva fall to injury, Moyer could fill one of their slots and the Jays would then wind up with a starting rotation that features 4 Left handed pitchers. 3 of them being of the “Crafty” variety.
As it stands, the Blue Jays currently have the active MLB leader in Wins & Strikeouts sitting down on the farm. The only question is can he help us out at the big league level?
See Phil Niekro, Circa – August, 1987.