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A Look At Brandon Morrow

Brandon Morrow is one of the more intriguing starters for 2011 fantasy drafts.  Let's take an in-depth look at the 26-year-old righty.

The Pros

  • Among those with at least 100 innings pitched, Morrow ranked first in baseball by a longshot with a 10.95 K/9.  Tim Lincecum was next at 9.79.  Morrow struck out eight or more hitters in half his starts, including a 17-K gem.  If he reaches 200 innings, he could whiff 240.
  • Morrow is difficult to hit, with 7.8 per nine allowed in his career.  He posted a .348 BABIP this year (almost certain to come down) but still allowed only 8.4 hits per nine because batters put so few balls in play against him.
  • He's a former first-round pick who was jerked around before being traded to the Blue Jays, so he might now just be settling in.
  • His average fastball velocity was a solid 93.4 this year. 
  • Morrow's ERA was 4.49, but his SIERA was 3.15.  The casual fantasy player may not realize that he's in line for a much lower ERA even if his skills remain the same.

The Cons

  • Due to injuries and time spent as a reliever, Morrow has never topped this year's 146.3 innings in a pro season.
  • He's inefficient.  Morrow's 17.2 pitches per inning figure this year was the 10th-worst in baseball among those with 100 innings.  He averaged 5.63 innings per start, which could limit wins.
  • I expect his WHIP to come down from 1.38 because of even fewer hits allowed.  But his 4.1 BB/9 was a career-best, and that's still a WHIP-damaging control rate.  Silver lining using arbitrary endpoints: his BB/9 was 3.0 over 14 starts made in June, July, and August.
  • He pitches in the AL East.

In trying to predict where Morrow might be drafted, Clayton Kershaw is a decent comparable.  He too was coming off a low-inning, high walk campaign, and he was drafted in the eighth round before this season.  On the flip side he didn't come with injury or American League concerns and he's really tough to hit.  Jonathan Sanchez is also similar, and he was drafted in the 19th.  I'm thinking rounds 13-15 for Morrow in 2011.  It's a solid gamble.

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