Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chamberlain and Morrow

It's interesting to see the Mariners heads slowly start grasping new ideas by watching what other teams do. Is it a coincidence the Mariners are looking at moving Morrow to the rotation when Joba is about to do the same thing? After all, McLaren has come right out and said they are monitoring the Joba experiment and are "considering" making a similar move.

The problem is Chamberlain and Morrow are completely different pitchers and what works for one won't necessarily work for the other. Let's look at how they are similar-
  • Both are young
  • Both are first round draft picks (i.e. high expectations)
  • Both throw hard (97+ mph)
  • Both have great movement on their fastballs
  • Both started the season in the bullpen
  • Both have more value to their team has a starter in the long run (or we wouldn't be having this conversation)
So are they the same type of pitcher and would the Mariners be smart to copy the Yankees handling of Joba transitioning to the rotation? Let's look at the differences between the two.
  • Joba pitched in the minors as a starter
  • Joba has at least 3 quality pitches
  • Joba can throw pitches besides his fastball for strikes
This is where Joba and Morrow really show why they need to be treated differently. Joba is in the pen because the team feels they need to limit his innings. If he started the season in the rotation, he would reach his roughly 160 inning limit before September. The team would then be forced to shut him down right during the crucial playoff stretch.

Morrow on the other hand has no second pitch he can throw reliably for strikes. Joba's biggest hurdles right now are simply staying within a pitch count and stretching out his arm to return to his starting role.

If the M's think what works for Joba will also work for Morrow they are deluding themselves. At this stage in their development, Chamberlain would seem to be far more developed and is much closer to moving to the rotation. Both teams are in a desperate win now mode, but thinking Morrow can develop pitches while in the majors may permanently setback his career as a starter.

The smart thing for the Mariners is to ignore what the Yankees are doing and send Morrow to the minors to work as a starter. They also need to resist sending him to winter ball yet again, which only increases the workload on his arm and proves nothing as the level of opponents makes the exercise largely useless.

Joba is not Morrow. Hopefully the M's front office recognizes the differences and can make a smart decision in what has become a lost season.