Morrow’s Keeper Conundrum

In an effort to limit his workload this season, the Blue Jays plan on shutting starter Brandon Morrow down after Friday’s outing against the Yankees. Morrow has established himself as a very good keeper candidate with his strong performances these last couple of months, but is he worth holding on to if he’s going to miss so much time? Here are some things to consider when it comes to keeping Morrow after this season.

1. September Shutdown
I briefly mentioned this above, but it’s a big deal. When a player is scheduled to ride the pine for the last month of the season, it can really complicate things for some owners. For owners who have teams who aren’t in contention, it’s no big deal, but competing owners? That’s a whole other story. For a team trying to win a league title, having all hands of deck is important and cannot be overstated. Some races get really close this time of year, and missing out on five starts could be the difference between first and second place.

2. Losing Eligibility
Thanks to the Mariners jerking him around for so long, Morrow had SP and RP eligibility this year. The Blue Jays have been kind enough to take away the valuable opportunity to slide Morrow into a relief role on your roster. While this isn’t a big deal in daily leagues, weekly owners willing to punt saves and rack up innings will have to make harder decisions next year. While it seems you can always find a starter who’s relief eligible, it’s rare to find one with Morrow’s skills.

3. Innings in 2011
The Blue Jays have said that they try to keep starters from increasing their workload by more than twenty innings. When all is said and done, Morrow will have pitched about 150 innings this year, meaning he’ll probably be around the 175-185 mark next year. Since he turns 26 next July, the Blue Jays may be willing to let him pitch freely next season, but I wouldn’t count on it.

In Conclusion…
Overall, Brandon Morrow and his owners should be asking for some relief appearances during September, but the Blue Jays aren’t going to oblige. A part of me hopes the Blue Jays decide to place him on the DL with a phantom injury, but with roster expansion they won’t be forced to. It’s hard to make a judgement one way or the other without knowing every owner’s situation, and I haven’t even made up my mind yet in one of my leagues. Weigh the facts, and make a decision. That’s all anyone can ever ask for.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

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Brandon Morrow
FIP 3.16
xFIP 3.61
K/9 10.93

Morrow could be ridiculous next year. Thats all I got to say.


I agree. I think he could end up doing next year what Ubaldo Jimenez is doing this year. The tougher league will hurt him some (specifically in the Win column) but its certainly not out of the question for 15Wins, 200K’s, a WHIP around 1.3 and an ERA in the 3.40 – 3.70 range. I guarantee I own this guy in at least 1 league next year, possibly all 3. The one thing I worry about though is his pre-draft hype. How bad will it get cuz I refuse to draft a pitcher before the 7th round (and I doubt I would make Morrow my 1st SP taken). So he’d have to make it to at least the 9th or 10 round… Will he?


Sounds like we have the same strategy – blue chip bats in rounds 1 through six (or seven) and then load up on guys like Hamels, Nolasco, Baker, Dempster. It’s tough to do well in ERA/WHIP without a 200 IP guy giving you a sub 3.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, but each year I have been playing, that guy has been someone I drafted late (Javy Vazquez and Chris Carpenter in 2009, Ubaldo [who I traded for Cliff Lee] in 2010). I think Morrow can make it to round 8 or 9 – pitching is super deep – but I don’t know if I want my ace to be an AL East guy with a terrible career BB/9.