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MLB Today: Sell High on Brandon Morrow?

May 16, 2012 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Brandon Morrow has been lights out for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Should you sell high on Brandon Morrow?

Clearly, with Brandon Morrow, less is more.

When we ranked him as a top 40 starter heading into the season, we marveled at his back-to-back seasons with a strikeout rate north of 10.

Well, that rate has plummeted to just 7.86/9 this season, yet he’s emerged as a top 10 starter on the strength of improved control and a higher groundball rate.

Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good with Morrow. He’s giving up home runs more often and he’s been the beneficiary of a very low BABIP (.221) and a higher than usual strand rate (76.9 per cent).

There’s no doubt that Morrow’s xFIPs and other peripheral numbers in recent seasons suggested that he deserved better bottom line stats than he had. But now, we fear, he is enjoying results (2.22 ERA, .200 BAA) that are unsustainable. He’s good – damned good – just not this damned good.

In looking at his last two starts (the second of which ended in a loss, snapping his career best four-game win streak), Morrow’s strikeouts are up (17 in 11 IP), but so are the walks (eight).

Is he reverting to his old form? If that’s the case, Morrow is a great sell high candidate while his numbers remain attractive. In fairness, Monday’s rough start was really just one bad inning, so if you own him, stay the course for now – unless you get blown away by an offer.

But if he starts to walk more batters going forward, consider it a red flag. The key for Morrow – as it always has been – is his ability to get ahead of hitters in the count.

Quick Hits

  • While we’re talking about pitchers that have exceeded our expectations this year, how about Derek Lowe? We ranked Lowe 154th in the preseason, but he’s been a top 50 starter so far, showing no signs of slowing down by posting his first shutout in seven years on Tuesday. Okay, so it came against the Twins, and he failed to strike out a single batter, but a dude that the Tribe signed as rotation filler has now gone 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA. Want to talk sell high? Lowe, who is finally gaining some real traction on the wire lately, has more walks than strikeouts, a WHIP of 1.44 and an xFIP of 4.39. If there’s an owner in your league that sees his half-dozen wins and sweet ERA and thinks Lowe is having a renaissance, peddle him for as much as you can get.
  • Still on the mound, Stephen Strasburg has also been better than anticipated this year, but he didn’t look so hot Tuesday, getting knocked out by the San Diego Padres (!?) after four innings. Still, it was just the second time in 25 career starts that Strasburg has given up more than three runs in a start. Woah. On the flipside, we could be looking at another sell high candidate here, simply for the fact that the Nats continue to maintain that they will not lift his innings restriction this year. Washington has been spinning its wheels lately, falling to second in the NL East, but barring a collapse, it’s hard to see them completely falling out of the playoff race. Will that change the team’s approach with Strasburg, and do you want to bet your Fantasy season on it when he might not be around to help you in the playoffs? Just sayin’…
  • The shit show that was supposed to be Miguel Cabrera’s ugly fielding at the hot corner this year has yet to materialize. He’s actually ranked ninth among qualified third baseman in fielding percentage, has committed just four errors and he’s sitting eighth in range factor. Well, mea culpa on that one. At the plate, he’s really turned things on after a slump at the beginning of May. Miggy has enjoyed multi-hit efforts in five of his last six games, driving in nine runs in the process. On Tuesday, his two-run homer – his first dinger since April 28 – helped key an eight-run sixth inning as Detroit rallied past the Pale Hose.

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