No. 5 Starter Watch: Phillies (and Moyer!)

Hey, I can't blame you for not caring about Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny. I mean, unless you're a Cubs fan or a close relation. But I don't care who you are -- if you're breathing and you love baseball, you gotta care about the Phillies' fifth starter. From Matt Gelb:

    After three off-season surgeries, Jamie Moyer came to spring training fighting for a job in his 24th season in the majors.

    "I didn't really know what to expect, because I haven't been through this kind of thing in the past," Moyer said. "So, you know what? Go wing it. See what happens."

    It's working.

    The 47-year-old lefthander all but guaranteed his spot as the fifth starter in the Phillies' rotation with a dominating effort Friday night.

    Facing a New York Yankees lineup filled with regulars except Jorge Posada and Nick Johnson, Moyer cruised. He allowed just two base runners over 62/3 innings and struck out six. He walked none. The Phillies won, 3-0.

    Moyer retired the final 15 batters he faced.

    "He looked pretty good, didn't he?" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He threw good quality strikes down. Even when he missed, he was close. He dropped a little yo-yo on them."


    It was Moyer's second Grapefruit League appearance. In 11-2/3 innings, he has allowed one run. He also started three B games earlier in the spring. Two were three-inning scoreless outings. In the other, his lone hiccup this spring, Moyer allowed five runs on eight hits in three innings.

    Expect to see him in the rotation.

    "It doesn't surprise me," Manuel said of Moyer's performance. "I've seen him go to the minor leagues twice and you think he's done, and he fought his way back to become a heck of a pitcher. When he came to spring training this year, I expected him to be in pretty good shape and working hard. Nothing's changed. It's who he is."

Leaving aside the question of whether Moyer's more qualified for this job, at this moment, than Kyle Kendrick, it's worth mentioning (again) just how strange this whole thing is.

Moyer turned 47 last fall. There have been exactly three men in major league history who started a game after turning 47.

Phil Niekro, a knuckleballer, started 32 games in 1987, when he was 47 (and he started 26 more the next season).

Jack Quinn, an Austro-Hungarian-American spitballer, started one game in 1931, when he was 47.

Satchel Paige, a Methuselah, started one game in 1965, when he was 58.

And that's it, friends: 60 starts, with one knuckleball pitcher accounting for 58 of them.

I don't know which label we're going to stick on Jamie Moyer someday. He doesn't throw knuckleballs or spitballs, and he's neither Satchel Paige nor 58 years old.

In two of the last three seasons, Moyer's ERA was right around 5. In the other, it was 3.71 but he gave up an abnormally low amount home runs. I don't have any confidence at all in his ability to post an ERA this season close to the league average. I have a great deal of confidence in Moyer's ability to solidify his place among the more interesting pitchers we'll ever see.