Is Brandon Morrow a Viable Fantasy Option?

Jun 29, 2011


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Morrow enters today’s game against Pittsburgh with a 3-4 record, a 4.90 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, and 81 strikeouts in 68 innings. The WHIP isn’t terrible, but it’s not likely to lower your team’s mark. The win total and ERA are of little use as well. The only category that Morrow excels in is strikeouts. If you pick your spots, Morrow can be beneficial to your fantasy team.
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For starters, be very careful when using Morrow at home. I was considering using him as my streaming option today (click to see who I chose), but a number stood out for me. That number is 8.13. No, I’m not talking about his strikeouts per nine innings. That’s actually 10.7. That 8.13 number represents his home ERA. Another unpleasant number is 1.71, which represents his home WHIP.
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In Morrow’s defense, his home ERA took a pounding at the hands of Boston, Cleveland when they were hitting, Detroit, and Tampa Bay. I wouldn’t write him off completely at home though. Last year he was 8-1 with a 2.74 ERA at Rogers Centre. He only has one quality start in his six starts at home (four of six on the road) so I would like to see some proof that he can get the job done at home before I rely on him there. Perhaps Pittsburgh is the start of the turnaround, but I’m too chicken to take the risk.
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Perhaps even more coincidental, but Morrow is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA at night and 1-2 with a 7.09 ERA during the day. I wouldn’t go as far as his home/road splits in determining whether or not to start him, but it’s something to keep in mind.
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If you’re looking for a sabermetric to hint for a return to numbers closer to last year, you have the wrong guy. Due to his high strikeout rate, his BABIP is generally going to be high. It was .342 last year and is .337 this year. His WHIP is actually a little lower, his BB/9 is lower, and his HR/9 and HR/FB are down. One area that he has regressed is his strand rate. Last year it was 69.0 percent and this year it’s at 63.5. If he can get out of the inning more frequently the ERA will come down.
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We know what Morrow can do. He will help you significantly in the strikeout department. It’s a roll of the dice every time you start him, but if you are selective, you can minimize any damage he might cause.
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