SAN FRANCISCO — The numbers jump off the page, and not in a good way.
An ERA of 6.04, last in the National League. A WHIP of 1.69, also last in the National League. A .307 batting average against.
There is no way to sugarcoat Matt Moore’s first half, during which he has alternated being wild with being stunningly hittable. With Madison Bumgarner one rehab start from returning, the Giants soon will be pulling a starter from the rotation, and on merit Moore would be part of that discussion.
It’s a move they can’t make, though, in part because of what this season has become. Austin Slater was getting a look in left field until an injury, Jae-Gyun Hwang is getting a chance to show what he can do at third, and Moore, a veteran in the big leagues, is all of a sudden in the same boat.
Among other things, the Giants need to use the second half to figure out who Matt Moore really is. They have eight million reasons to do so.
Moore came from Tampa Bay on a team-friendly deal, and when the Giants acquired him last August 1, it looked to be a lock that they would pick up the remainder of his deal. Moore was their new Bumgarner, a young lefty who would annually be underpaid. The Giants picked up the first of Moore’s options last November and it was a no-brainer given how he pitched down the stretch and in the NLDS. The second option year is for 2018 at a cost of $9 million, with a $1 million buyout. There is a $10 million option in 2019 with a buyout of $750,000.
The Giants will almost certainly still view $8 million as a worthwhile investment for 2018 given the price of free agent pitching and the talent Moore still shows in flashes, but it’s not the layup it once was because Moore has not been the pitcher he was. Moore’s inclusion in the second-half rotation might not be the layup it appeared to be, either. Asked about what the Giants might do to try and fix Moore, manager Bruce Bochy said discussions have been had.
“We’ve talked about it. I don’t have something to give you, but we’ve talked about what we can do to help all these guys and set up our rotation,” he said. “We’ll continue that the next two days.”
The Giants likely will have Johnny Cueto and Bumgarner lined up for the first two games of the second half. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. Moore said he’ll use the break to fish, play some golf, and clear his head.
“I’ll catch my breath a little bit,” he said.
Moore said he’s looking forward to his next start. He’s also looking forward to officially being into the second half of the season.
“With relief pitchers, they probably think about it in the sense of months. A new month is a new season. Hitters go day to day,” he said. “For me, (a new half) is something to set my sights on. You have the whole second half to figure out the things that are keeping you from getting to the seventh and eight inning. That is one of the things I’m looking forward to.”