It only may seem that he’s been around longer than the dirt on that mound.
At the ripe age of 49, Moyer will become the oldest pitcher to appear in a major league game in nearly 40 years, and could become the oldest ever to earn a win when the Rockies continue their season-opening series with the Astros.
Moyer last pitched in the majors in 2010, when he went 9-9 with a 4.84 ERA in 19 starts for Philadelphia but had his season cut short to undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. Instead of retiring, the left-hander signed a minor league contract with the Rockies on Jan. 18 - exactly two months after his 49th birthday. Improbably, he posted a 2.77 ERA this spring and beat out 22-year-old Tyler Chatwood and 28-year-old Guillermo Moscoso for a rotation spot.
“I was excited. I’m happy. I’m honored,” Moyer said. “But in the end, like (manager) Jim (Tracy) said, ‘You earned it.’ That was my goal coming here.”
Moyer’s goal Saturday is to become the oldest pitcher in major league history to win a game. Jack Quinn was also 49 when he earned his last victory Sept. 13, 1932, but he was younger than Moyer is now. When he throws his first pitch, Moyer will become the oldest pitcher to appear in a game since July 10, 1972, when Hoyt Wilhelm made his final appearance for the Los Angeles Dodgers 16 days before turning 50.
“It’s an opportunity, and I think it’s a great opportunity to try to take it and run with it,” Moyer said. “I’ve looked at my whole career as an opportunity, especially as I’ve gotten older.”
The active leader in victories (267), innings (4,020) and starts (628), Moyer is 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 15 career appearances versus the Astros.
“I think he can still be very, very effective,” Tracy said. “He has incredible know-how. He’s an incredible pitch maker. When he’s right, he can carve a strike zone up.”
He’ll face a team that opened the season with an average age of 27.82, second-youngest in the majors. Seven current Astros were not yet born when Moyer made his major league debut June 16, 1986. The oldest Houston player, first baseman Carlos Lee, was four days shy of his 10th birthday.
Lee is 7 for 33 (.212) in his career against Moyer, but two of those hits were home runs.
Lee and Brian Bogusevic both homered Friday for Houston, but the Astros committed four errors and fell 5-3 to drop their season opener for a sixth consecutive year.
“We had some mental mistakes that I’m probably more concerned about than anything else,” manager Brad Mills said. “Those things, we’re going to address … they did a great job of that in spring training, but we’re going to work on those and move on.”
Perhaps it’s only fitting that Moyer will be opposed Saturday by a player who maintains rookie status. Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell has made 17 appearances - five starts - over the last two seasons, but has only 42 major league innings under his belt.
The right-hander, acquired off waivers from the Chicago White Sox last July before becoming a September call-up, went 0-2 with a 3.46 ERA in six appearances for Houston including two starts.
One of those starts was in a 19-3 home loss to the Rockies on Sept. 25, when Harrell yielded five runs - three earned - and seven hits in three innings.