Some thoughts on Moscoso

Part of the Rockies’ return package for Seth Smith is right-hander Guillermo Moscoso, who made 21 starts for the Athletics in 2011. Moscoso had some cups-of-coffee with the Rangers as a reliever in 2009 and 2010, but last year was the first time we got a good look (128 innings) at what Moscoso he has to offer.

In short, he has a decent fastball and underwhelming off-speed pitches. He’ll throw his four-seamer a little under 91, backing it up with a high-70s changeup and slurvey curveball (the change goes against lefties, while batters from both sides will see his curve). At the end of July, Moscoco brought a mid-80s cutter into his repertoire as another weapon against righties (Dan Lependorf made note of this last summer).

Moscoso’s ERA last year was a very solid 3.38, but I’m lukewarm on his chances of replicating that mark. Over his career he has shown decent control (3.1 walks and hit batsmen per 9 innings), an unspectacular strikeout rate (5.6 strikeouts per 9), and an extreme flyball tendency (career ground ball rate of around 25%). His fastball has generated a swing-and-miss on nearly 17 percent of swings; that rate is league-average for four-seamers. However, none of his offspeed pitches have a rate over 21 percent, leaving him without a reliable out-pitch. He doesn’t really have anything that stays on the ground either:

pitch       x     gb%
Fastball    222   16%
Curveball   103   41%
Changeup    44    26%
Cutter      13    38%

Moscoso’s batting average on contacted pitches was .248 last year, lowest in the majors among pitchers with at least 100 innings. It’s fair to attribute some of this to the nature of Oakland Coliseum. As Greg Rybarczyk made note of in the 2011 THT Annual, Oakland’s colder-than-average temperatures help prevent home runs, and the park’s large amount of foul territory gets pitchers a lot of extra outs on balls hit into the air.

What does this mean for Moscoso’s new team? Coors Field is a notorious slugger park and that does not fit Moscoso’s profile very well at all. The Rockies have plenty of starting pitchers (including Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio, Jason Hammel, Drew Pomeranz, Kevin Slowey, Tyler Chatwood, and the other player in the Smith deal, Josh Outman), so I doubt Moscoso even gets a look in the rotation at this point.

Two notes – a) pitch IDs are by Harry Pavlidis (thank you, Harry); b) my dataset unfortunately is missing Moscoso’s last three 2011 starts, so the numbers in this article reflect his previous outings.

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