The debate about whether Brandon Morrow was a better starter or reliever lived for his whole career in Seattle. Even in his first year in pro ball, the Mariners were flip-flopping him between starter and reliever. By 2008, he flashed dominant potential by striking out 10.4 hitters per 9 innings for the season, and in the first half he had a 0.88 WHIP. In that first half, Morrow was used exclusively as a reliever, but the Mariners thought highly of him as a starter so they flipped him back to that role at the end of the season. His second half came out much worse than his first. In 2009, it was more of the same. Morrow started 10 games and was used as a reliever in 16. Not surprisingly his results were inconsistent and he had location problems as he walked almost 6 batters per 9 innings. His arm strength was consistently altered and the number of pitches that he needed to develop were constantly altered.
When the Blue Jays traded for Morrow in the offseason, all of that changed. Morrow has appeared in 22 games this year and all of them have been as a starter. And they deserve all the credit in the world for turning Morrow’s career and fantasy relevance around. In the month of April Morrow had a 5.46 ERA and in May he got worse with a 6.52 ERA. It would have been easy to demote him to the bullpen at that point given that he was showing power pitching skills in the strikeout category. Perhaps they dug deeper in the numbers and looked at his low left on base numbers and his normal xFIP numbers or perhaps they felt obligated to stick to a plan they had when they traded for him originally.
In any event, Morrow is a great play now in mixed leagues and after yesterday’s outing against Tampa Bay, I’m finally going to change my tune. Yesterday’s start by Morrow was the best of any pitcher in 2010 including Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay.
- The Oakland A’s are reportedly calling up Chris Carter tonight. Carter has been clobbering the ball since after the all-star break and deserves a look in deeper mixed leagues.
- David Wright and Carlos Beltran were a combined 0 for 8 with 6 strikeouts yesterday in the Mets loss to the Phillies. Wright is 2 for his last 26 and hasn’t homered in August. Beltran hasn’t stolen a base since returning and has hit just one home run.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is 0 for 16 since coming off the DL, but he has only struck out in one of those 16 at-bats to two walks. He is a great buy low right now.
- Leo Nunez could be in jeopardy of losing his job as closer of the Marlins. Manager Edwin Rodriguez is not happy with the ratio of fastballs to change ups.
- Josh Beckett looked awful against the Yankees yesterday, but it is nothing new. He has given up 5 of the 8 home runs he’s allowed this season to New York. He has a 11.17 ERA against the Yankees and 4.35 ERA against everyone else.
- Derek Lowe got a win for the Braves, but threw just 66 pitches. He had to leave early with cramps on a 90 degree day in Atlanta.
- Ryan Braun has an 8 game hitting streak, but just one extra base hit (a double) during that stretch.
- Kevin Slowey has a sore elbow, so the Twins might call on Glen Perkins to start Wednesday. Bad timing for Slowey who was pitching really well his last three times out.
- Travis Wood continues to be effective. Yesterday he gave up 3 earned runs in 6.1 innings. He has a WHIP of 0.88 in 8 starts.
- Shane Victorino will likely be activated on Friday, but the news might not be as good for Ryan Howard. Howard is eligible to be back on August 17th, but as of yet hasn’t done much more than walk on his ankle.
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