Ten hitters up, 10 hitters down.
It was the 11th hitter who finally got to Jamie Moyer. As if a light came on, Rafael Furcal doubled to left field. Then Orlando Hudson doubled. Then a productive out. Then a walk. Then a home run. Suddenly the wheels had flown off the cart, and Jamie Moyer was scuffling just to get an out.
This practice is nothing new against Moyer. Watch him work and you’ll see he’s normally fine the first time through a lineup. Sometimes he’s effective the second time around (usually against teams that don’t adjust). By the third time, however, almost everyone adjusts. A usual Moyer line starts with “6 IP.” In fact, let’s look at the starts over six innings that Moyer had in 2008:
- May 5 at Arizona
- May 26 vs Colorado
- June 1 vs Florida
- June 12 at Florida
- June 24 at Oakland
- July 5 vs NY Mets
- July 10 vs St. Louis
- July 24 at NY Mets
- August 15 at San Diego
- September 7 at NY Mets
With the exception of St. Louis and the Mets, these were all either young or bad offenses in 2008 – or, teams that may not quickly adjust to Moyer’s stuff.
What I’m saying is Moyer is a reliant pitcher. He relies on the other team’s offense to make mistakes or be impatient. He relies on the umpire’s strike zone to be effective. And he relies on his defense to play sterling baseball behind him. Even last night, he relied on the wind, and James Loney’s pop fly to right field sailed into the stands.
How long can the Phillies go with the reliant Moyer? It’s not the same control wizardry we saw in 2008. Even so, hitters are wiser to the game – they know if they’re patient with Moyer, let him work and lose his control, they’ll have a field day. And more teams are hipper to this knowledge: In 2009, Moyer has just one quality start. It’s against the Marlins. Makes sense.