Brandon Morrow has been called many names in fantasy baseball: enigma, tease, man-crush, and amazing. As one of the only pitchers with both a high K% and BB%, he’s very unique. He’s just never been the fantasy ace like many wanted.
Since he made the leap to starter status with Seattle in 2007, he’s ranked in the top 5 in K/9 (9.84 K/9) and percentage of plate appearances ending in a strikeout or walk (37.3%). The credentials have matched the label of “dominating starter,” but the ERA in past years never quite followed the same path.
Last year, his age 26 season, was his most optimistic one with Toronto. He was fresh off a second 10.00+ K/9 season as a starter and pitched more than 150 innings for the first time in his career. There were improvements across the board, but the ERA still remained higher than the statistics projected at 4.72.
This year, his name carried the usual mix of optimism and skepticism. He’s the ultimate risk/reward pick for fantasy owners. He’s always possessed tantalizing statistics and admirers. His ADP isn’t draft-killing, but he’s a player known throughout your league as a sexy starting pitcher pick.
Thus far, he’s pitching to the tune of a 3.28 ERA. This gives owners hope that Morrow is finally putting it together. Beginning the 2012 season, he was pitching unlike the Morrow of old who would post high strikeout totals, alternate good and bad games, and flash the “what if?” potential. Instead, he was dominating games with excellent control (2.20 BB/9 in April compared to a career BB/9 over 4.00) and was aided by a .213 BABIP through 32 innings. So the biggest knock against Morrow prior to this season was his biggest asset during the first month of the season. In May, Morrow looked more like his old self with a 10.25 K/9 and 3.50 BB/9.
Keep in mind that he has yet to pitch against any other AL East opponent but Baltimore. Granted, the Orioles started the season in great fashion, but the vaunted offenses of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees remain on the schedule. Last year Boston gave Morrow trouble. He pitched the Red Sox to a 12.32 ERA in 19 innings. But one can also point to Morrow’s dominance over the Yankees last year. He burned the Bombers for a 1.74 ERA over 20.2 innings. So far this season only three of the nine teams he’s faced are ranked in the top 10 in runs scored – the Baltimore Orioles (10th), the New York Mets (9th), and the Texas Rangers (1st). This, and his .223 BABIP, may be an indication that regression is on the way.
But if Morrow continues to put together his lowest BB% of his career and can get back closer to the level of control he displayed in April, this could be a turnaround season for him.
Written by Timothy Lee, exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.