Sophomore Andrew Moore has struggled with mechanics in his 2nd season at OSU
Andrew Moore surprised just about everyone in 2013.
As a freshman, Moore was a First Team All-American and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year for the Oregon State baseball team.
He supplanted returning starting pitcher Dan Child in the rotation, and showed all year that it was the right decision.
Moore's 14 wins were tied for the most in the nation, and his 1.79 earned run average was second in the Pac-12.
No one in the conference, or across the country, knew who this unstoppable freshman was.
"There were no expectations he dealt with last year," said pitching coach Nate Yeskie. "Being a freshman coming in, anytime he did anything good, it was welcomed and appreciated, but there were no expectations other than giving us a competitive start."
Moore sure gave the Beavers plenty of competitive starts. He was a crucial part of the second-best pitching staff in the nation, which led the Beavers within grasp of a national championship.
The nickname his teammates have bestowed upon him is the "red storm," because of his long, unkempt shock of red hair.
This year, that storm has calmed.
Moore started off his sophomore campaign looking like he was the same dominant pitcher from a year ago. In his first four starts, he allowed a combined two earned runs against nonconference opponents.
Then, things started to go awry for the sophomore.
"I changed a few things in the beginning (of the season)," Moore said. "I was tipping my pitches when I was coming set, and stuff like that that was nagging at me, so I was kind of just tired of that."
Moore has made mechanical adjustments multiple times in 2014, and while slight tinkering may not sound like much, it can drastically affect a pitcher's performance.
In a three-game stretch, Moore had two outings during which he allowed five or more earned runs. Against Arizona, he didn't make it out of the fourth inning after giving up six runs and 10 hits.
He even started pitching out of the stretch, rather than the windup, against Oregon and Cal. The change was something he did on his own, which showed Yeskie and OSU's coaches that he is maturing as a player.
There has been a plethora of adjustments the sophomore has made this year, but the ultimate culprit for Moore's struggles has been that Pac-12 opponents know who he is and what his tendencies are.
"As a team, we have a target on our back; I feel the same way" Moore said. "Teams have made some good adjustments against me, and there have been times where I haven't made adjustments back. I've made pitches (in an) 0-2 (count) against the scouting report. Little things like that eat away at you over the course of the game and the year."
In four different games this season, Moore has allowed double-digit hits. His workload and strikeout totals are similar to 2013, but the amount of batters reaching base against him is staggeringly higher than last year.
"He's just going through those growing pains -- everybody does," Yeskie said. "Because he won so many (games) last year, guys come out to attack him more, challenge him more. That's just part of it."
His statistics in Pac-12 play are worse than his overall numbers, which can be credited to a combination of opponents' knowledge and the talent gap between OSU's nonconference opponents and Pac-12 teams.
Moore says there has been a difference in the way Pac-12 teams have approached him at the plate.
He said hitters have been aggressive against his slider, compared to last year when they may have laid off entirely because they were anticipating a fastball.
His fastball command has also been an ongoing issue, which was not a problem for him in 2013.
"Fastball command has been something that's really hurt me at times this year," Moore said. "I've either fallen behind in counts or been 0-2 and just haven't located a high fastball. Every pitcher wants to throw off their fastball, and when you're not controlling that the way you want to be, you're falling behind in counts. It's just giving them the luxury to be comfortable and know it's coming."
Despite some of the struggles, Moore's overall ERA is 2.94 in 79 2/3 innings. His Pac-12 ERA is 3.54, but his record in conference play still sits at 4-2. It's a lot easier for those numbers to look bad when his two counterparts in the rotation -- Ben Wetzler and Jace Fry -- have ERAs of 1.00 or less in Pac-12 play.
Yeskie says dealing with adversity has made Moore stronger, both mentally and physically.
After a bout with mechanical issues, the sophomore says he is feeling the most comfortable he has all year. Now it's a matter of fully returning to his 2013 form.
"I need to get that confidence back," Moore said. "I can't worry about what's happened so far this year or last year, I've just got to get ready for USC this weekend and give everything I've got."
Warner Strausbaugh, editor-in-chief
On Twitter @WStrausbaugh