Moore, Hellickson flip spots in rotation

Moore, Hellickson flip spots in rotation

Moore, Hellickson flip spots in rotation
BOSTON -- The Rays are pushing Matt Moore's next start back a day as part of some final-week rotation jockeying. Initially slated to start Friday against the White Sox, the left-hander will now pitch Saturday in Chicago, a direct switch with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

"Just potentially what may happen later," manager Joe Maddon said of the reasoning. "That's all. It was all about that."

Moore, who's lost four straight decisions, will be on six days' rest, while Hellickson will be on a standard four. If the rotation remains the same, Hellickson (9-10, 3.20 ERA) would be in line to start the final scheduled game of the regular season, Oct. 3 at home against Baltimore. The Saturday start for Moore (10-11, 3.92 ERA) would be his last of the regular season.

In Hellickson's last 16 starts, he's given up more than three runs just once, and in the one exception, he allowed just four runs. There's been some concern that Moore could be tipping pitches, but Maddon said that's not what this move was about.

"He can actually stand on the mound and say, 'Here comes my fastball,' and I still think he can be successful," Maddon said. "I mean, all this stuff is way overblown. I want him to stop thinking about that. If he makes good pitches, regardless if they know it's coming or not, I still think he can be successful."

Moore and Maddon met to talk about the decision, and Maddon reinforced how much confidence he has in Moore going forward. After all, Maddon joked, Moore's job security is a lot better than his own.

"I had a good conversation just so he understood what I was thinking and I want to reinforce with him how much confidence I do have in him now and in the future," Maddon said. "I think he's going to be an excellent Major League pitcher. You look at where he's at right now, we've had guys come through that are really good right now. Talk about David [Price] and [James] Shields that may not have been that good at that particular moment like Matt has been. He has to understand that, too, just some bumps and bruises of growing as a Major League pitcher."

Health-wise, Moore is fine, Maddon said.

Right-hander Chris Archer, who made a pair of starts this month, will stay in the bullpen as a long man for now. Maddon said entering the two-game series with the Red Sox that began Tuesday that his bullpen is in good shape, so Archer serves essentially as insurance.

"A nice guy to have in the 'pen," Maddon said. "We do not have any other plans right now."