SEATTLE — With some changes looming for their starting rotation and the debate raging on which pitcher needed to be removed with the return of Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners made a different and unexpected move on Wednesday afternoon.
Seattle selected the contract of right-hander Andrew Moore, a former North Eugene High and Oregon State star, from Class AAA Tacoma and added him to the active roster. To make room for him on the 25-man roster, right-hander Christian Bergman was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma while right-hander Tyler Cloyd was designated for assignment to make room for Moore on the 40-man roster.
Moore was immediately inserted into the starting rotation, taking the place of veteran Yovani Gallardo. He will make his Major League debut on Thursday in the series finale vs. the Tigers.
A native of Eugene, Moore grew up a Mariners fan. Now his first start will be at Safeco Field.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I grew up going to games here and now I’m going to be able to take the mound. I’m just ready to get out there.”
He impressed manager Scott Servais and the big league staff this spring, showing maturity and the ability to throw strikes.
“He’s been a very good performer and he’s obviously been on our radar since Day 1,” Servais said. “We really liked what he saw in spring training and we are going to give him a shot.”
Moore, 23, is rated as the No. 2 pitching prospect in the Mariners’ organization by both Baseball America and MLB.com. Nick Neidert, who pitches for the Class A Modesto Nuts and was drafted in the compensatory round just ahead of Moore, who went in the second round in 2015, is the team’s top pitching prospect.
During his three-year career at OSU, Moore went 27-9 with a 2.10 ERA and helped lead the team to the 2013 College World Series.
Moore started the season in Class AA Arkansas and was promoted to Class AAA Tacoma in early May. He’s combined to go 4-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 14 combined appearances. Moore has struck out 77 batters and walked just 14 in 82⅔ innings pitched.
“I’ve been trying to take it one start at a time, especially in Triple A where you are facing a lot of older hitters and they are really good about making adjustments,” Moore said.
He’s risen quickly through the system. In three minor league seasons (2015–17), he gone 17–8 with a 2.59 ERA (82 ER, 284.2 IP) with 253 strikeouts in 56 games, including combined 49 starts. Last year, he earned the Mariners’ Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award after going 12–4 with a 2.65 ERA (48 ER, 163.0 IP) in 29 starts between High-A Bakersfield and A Jackson.
Gallardo was informed of his change in roles a few days ago. He will serve in the long relief role. He hasn’t made a relief appearance since 2007 as a rookie for the Brewers. But despite quality stuff, his inability to consistently keep runners off base and avoid disastrous innings was his downfall.
“His raw stuff has ticked up and probably better than last year,” Servais said. “But it’s his inability to stay away from the big inning. A lot of those big innings have happened early in games so you are kind of behind the eight ball right out of the get go. If we get in a bad game or a rough situation with our starter early, we can certainly fire him in there and he has pitches to work with. He’s a veteran. He’s been in the league a long time.”
Bergman has been solid fill-in for the Mariners’ injury-decimated rotation. In eight starts and one relief appearance, he posted a 4-4 record with a 5.44 ERA. He allowed two earned runs in five of his eight starts. With Hernandez returning to the rotation on Friday, the Mariners were going to send down either Bergman or Sam Gaviglio, another former OSU pitcher.
Cloyd made one appearance for the Mariners this season, picking up a the in relief on June 9. He was 1–0 with a 1.40 ERA in five starts with Class AAA Tacoma. The Mariners signed Cloyd out the independent Atlantic League on May 12.