Brandon Morrow hasn't gotten a lot of love here from this particular writer. He has often been picked against on the game picks feature and to be honest, he's been picked on a bit on the Twitter side of things too. And to be honest, he can be a frustrating pitcher akin to Matt Latos of the Padres. Big time arms like theirs don't always harness that power to the kind of results you'd expect. But Brandon Morrow just crushed the hopes of the Tampa Bay Rays last night with a gutty and big time performance. Again, there were too many pitches early and four walks too many, but Morrow was otherwise sensational and perhaps that in itself is the guy in a nutshell.
Brandon Morrow seems to know no middle ground. He averages less than six innings a start. He has a rather high home run per nine inning rate, but perhaps that can be understood by pitching half his games in that dome in Toronto. He's given up four or more earned runs in nine of his twenty-nine starts. His home park seems to be part of his problem. Morrow has a 5-8 mark at home with a 6.31 ERA. On the road, he is 6-3 with a 3.07 ERA. The equation seems simple, when he gives up a homer, he loses. When he doesn't, he wins. In his eleven wins, not a single homer allowed. In his eleven losses, fifteen dingers allowed. In eleven wins, a 2.07 sparkling ERA. In his eleven losses, a crushing 8.63 ERA. In no decisions, his ERA is just above league average.
So we're talking about a guy who is either very, very good or not depending on the date and the location. His strikeout rate remains constant at home or on the road. Every other home/road split is eye-catching. His BABIP at home is .349. On the road it's 2.44. His OPS against at home is .794. On the road it's .589. Since he fares so poorly at home, he has become sort of a whipping boy to the home town crowd. And that's unfortunate.
Morrow's statistics are still arresting. In his last 55 starts covering a two year period, Morrow has struck out 374 batters in 319.2 innings pitched. His FIP this season is -1.21 to his actual ERA. His xFIP is even better. His swinging strike percentage was higher than his career average this season and his first pitch strikes were the highest of his career. His infield pop up rate was also the highest of his career.
Brandon Morrow has more talent than most pitchers in baseball. Perhaps the frustration comes from not seeing him put it all together. He's only 27. There is still time for that to happen. First, he has to learn how to beat his home park. He needs to go deeper in games and if he can do those two things, he can be the pitcher we all want him to be. To be sure, there would be 29 other teams that would love to have him. Perhaps next season will be the one where we see what Brandon Morrow can really do.