ST. PETERSBURG — Much of the work LHP Matt Moore has done this season in his return from April 2014 Tommy John surgery is to build his base for a full 2016 campaign.
But seeing an improvement in performance in the four starts since his month-long exile to Triple A has made this season a little better, too.
"A lot of players talk about the process and things like that, and I was happy with certain things I was doing, but the results were just so poor it was kind of hard to be okay with the process," said Moore, who starts tonight against the Marlins.
"But now we're seeing things coming together — the breaking ball is getting sharper, a better feel for the changeup, velocity on the fastball is getting a little more consistent. Those things all feel good and they're positive, so I would assume heading into the offseason we'll be very confident heading into spring training."
In his first six starts back, Moore went 1-3 with a 8.78 ERA, averaging 2.06 walks and hits per inning. In four since coming back from Durham he is 1-1, 3.86, with a 1.11 WHIP. His past two have been his best, evidenced by 16 strikeouts in 132/3 innings with 34 swings and misses. In his first eight he had 23 in 361/3 with 61 swings and misses.
Moore is hoping to also pitch Sunday's season finale, having worked 1011/3 innings thus far between rehab, minor-league and big-league games, operating under a rough 110-inning limit.
From there, he hopes to go into 2016 unbridled. "I don't think there will be any kind of conversation that winds up with a limitation for next year, especially with having 100 innings with my rehab games and things involved," he said. "That's a pretty good load. You're not going zero to 200, or zero to 180, those are the times it can be dangerous."
FLIP SIDE: RHP Steve Geltz's eventful rookie season has included several fun highs — his first big-league win and save, plus a couple of starts. Sunday was a reminder of the other side of the business, his sixth loss, third in walkoff style. "It's always tough anytime you give the game up and let your team down," he said. "It's never an enjoyable walk off. It's just one of those things. This game is bittersweet sometimes. One pitch can hurt you and one pitch can save an inning, and (Sunday) it hurt me."
MISCELLANY: The Rays are 43-48 in an MLB-most 91 games decided by two or fewer runs, 25-30 in one-run affairs. … CF Kevin Kiermaier joined Carl Crawford as the only Rays to have double-digit homers and triples in a season. … This is the latest in the season the Rays have played an interleague series. … RHP Jose Fernandez of Alonso High is slated to start Thursday for the Marlins, who are managed by former Rays scouting director Dan Jennings.