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July 9, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Weekly Planner #15 - All-Star Break Edition

by Craig Brown

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The All-Star break is in days, which means there won’t be any two start pitchers in the upcoming week.  Instead, I’d like to look back at two pitchers who have been discussed over the last few of months in the Weekly Planner feature.

Brandon Morrow

Here’s what I had to say in recommending Morrow to “sit” in Weekly Planner #9:
With a 3.48 SIERA, Morrow has almost a three point gap between that and his ERA.  His 11.7 K/9 and 70% contact rate is impressive, but his walk rate of 5.8 BB/9 continues to undermine anything positive he could possibly accomplish.

By Weekly Planner #13, I changed my tune:
The guy is only striking out a quarter of all batters, allowing just 59% of all hitters to put the ball in play and is getting a swing and a miss on  20% of his strikes.

That was couple of weeks ago and I still have no idea why Morrow isn’t owned in more mixed leagues - he’s currently owned in just 22% of ESPN leagues. Sure his overall numbers (a 4.69 ERA, a 4.2 BB/9 and a 1.42 window._ttf = window._ttf || []; _ttf.push({ pid : 53804 ,lang : "en" ,slot : '.contentPad .article > p' ,format : "inread" ,minSlot : 5 ,components : { skip: {delay : 0}} ,css : "margin: 0px auto 20px; max-width: 600px!important;" }); (function (d) { var js, s = d.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; js = d.createElement('script'); js.async = true; js.src = '//cdn.teads.tv/media/format.js'; s.parentNode.insertBefore(js, s); })(window.document); WHIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">WHIP - not to mention a losing record) don’t look roster-worthy, but he’s still working off a rough first seven starts of the season.  Even with the rocky April (and first part of May) his overall strikeout rate of 10 K/9 ranks Morrow fourth among all starting pitchers and his SIERA of 3.50 is top 25 material.  Those numbers quoted from Weekly Planner #13 are still valid.  And still awesome.

Since May 15, Morrow has posted a rock solid walk rate of 2.8 BB/9 and has been punching out exactly one batter per inning.  Over this time (61 IP), he’s kept the ball in the yard - he’s allowed three home runs - and owns a 3.54 ERA.  

If you’re looking to add a starter you can’t do much better than Morrow.

Kevin Correia

Correia’s ground ball rate caught my attention in Weekly Planner #5:
Correia is throwing more two-seamers and the result is a ground out or strikeout in almost 50% of all plate appearances.  The opposition is hitting .243 against him this year.

By Weekly Planner #13, I soured on the Padre starter:
Correia has been pounded of late (7.50 ERA over his last 24 innings with 10 BB and 15 SO) and has a head to head match-up against the Great Jimenez.  Although both his starts this week are at home, he doesn’t enjoy the same home cooking as his fellow Padre starters - he has a 4.53 ERA in eight home starts.

Owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues, there are a lot of reasons to consider a pitcher like Correia... On paper.  A ground ball pitcher with an excellent defense behind him who plays half his games in Petco… Honestly, where do I sign up?  

Except those struggles at home are very real… Two starts in San Diego after Weekly Planner #13, his home ERA remains at 4.53 (his ERA is even worse on the road at 6.07) and his home WHIP of 1.44 is only slightly better than his overall rate of 1.48.  

A huge part of his problem is simply his lack of control.  Overall, he’s walking 4.1 batters per nine.  Plus, for a guy who gets around 48% of all batted balls to stay on the ground, he sure gives up more than his share of gopher balls.  His HR/FB rate stands at a gaudy 13.9% and he owns a home run rate of 1.13 HR/9. With his high walk rate, I surprised to learn only five of the 11 home runs he’s surrendered this year have come with men on base.  And of those five, they were all two-run homers.  That's fortunate.  I know he’s trailing SIERA, but I don’t see how the gap isn’t higher given all the base runners and the home runs he’s allowing.  That doesn't necessarily make him a value.

Plus, the issue where Correia doesn’t pitch deep into games remains.  His start against the Astros on July 3 was only the second time all year (16 starts) he pitched past the sixth inning. Plus, he hasn’t shown any signs of improvement as he has a 6.00 ERA over his last six starts and his 17 walks against 19 strikeouts over those 30 IP doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

If I was in the market for a starting pitcher, I’d look somewhere else.

Craig Brown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

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Prospectus Q&A: Don Zi... (07/09)
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