As Daniel Moskos nears the final month of his first full professional season, he'll do so with more innings to his name than in any other year of his career. But in the meantime, the unchartered workload is putting a strain on his results.
Moskos started the season with Class A Advanced Lynchburg, where the determination was made that he would begin developing as a starter. The results fell into place early. On June 14, after his 14th start of the season, Moskos stood at 6-3 with a 4.04 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was nearly three-to-one.
Since then, however, the numbers have been disastrous. In his past six starts, the lefty has pitched past the fifth just once and has been chased from the game after two innings on two different occasions. The 33 runs in 22 2/3 innings have shot his ERA up to a season-worst 6.28. His 12 walks are just six fewer than he had in those first 14 starts.
The culprit? It's that workload.
"I think he is at that point when he's never had this type of workload, where he is handling the ball every fifth day," director of player development Kyle Stark said. "With a little fatigue, there's not as much room for error."
Combining his innings from college and professional ball last season, Moskos, the team's first-round Draft pick in '07, logged a total of 95 innings. Through his start on Monday, he had already reached 91 2/3 this year, with 37 games still left on the Hillcats' season schedule.
As a result, Stark said that Moskos will likely transition into a bullpen role over the next few weeks in order to ease the workload for the final month of the Minor League season. Don't read too deeply into this, however. Stark emphasized that it is by no means an indication that the organization is ready to give up on Moskos as a starter.
"This is the first time in his career that he's ever been extended like this," Stark said. "I think that for us to say that he can't be a starter after just one season of this wouldn't be fair. I'm not ready, and I don't think the organization is ready, to say that."
Moskos' move to the bullpen in August will be a very controlled one. He won't be a reliever in the true sense of the role, but will still have somewhat scheduled days to pitch multiple innings of relief.
According to the reports Stark has received, Moskos has not seen a decline in velocity as his arm has tired. It's been the command of his pitches that has suffered -- evidenced by the high number of walks and the number of pitches the left-hander has left over the plate.
"Every pitcher fatigues," Stark said. "That's just the natural grind. It's not that's it necessarily obvious, but it's definitely been a change for him."