Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Morrow continues to impress

Brandon Morrow and Felix Hernandez are far and away the two brightest stars on this team. Ichiro is fun to watch and his quotes are hilarious, but he is infinitely more interesting when hitting well over .300 in games that matter.

Felix we all know about.

Morrow is the guy we want to know about but the team won't let us. How would Morrow do pitching in the 6th inning? Can he maintain his fastball and dial it up whenever he needs to like Chamberlain? Are his offspeed pitches really coming along or just show-me pitches to keep the hitters off balance? Can he be a dominant starter? Can he be relied upon and avoid injuries?

We don't know, and the timetable for when we do is still a long ways off. Instead of pitching in the minors like he should, Morrow pitches exciting but useless games during a lost season. The biggest enemy facing Morrow's development as a major league starter is innings.

Let's suppose you are in the camp of letting Morrow get a crack in the starting rotation next spring. Sounds reasonable enough, and is likely what the club is thinking too. But Morrow has never pitched 100 innings before. Is the club going to put Morrow in the starting rotation next year and then shut him down when August rolls around? If Morrow is as effective as his supporters think he will be, his season ending innings total would easily approach 200 innings. There's no way the team can let him get close to that number.

The knock on Lincecum was he was an injury risk and threw too many innings in college. The upside was he was major league ready. Morrow is in many ways the mirror opposite. He never threw many innings in college so he needs work as he builds up to a 162 game schedule. How exactly will that happen by pitching 1 inning a game?

By keeping him in the bullpen and only pitching an inning at a time, you get Morrow really gaudy stats but you make the long term picture murky. Send Morrow down or figure out a plan to get him more innings on the club right now. The current plan is bad for the team and for Morrow's future.

Free Morrow and get him out of this fun to watch but useless one inning role.