Taking a chance on Brandon Morrow

Brandon Morrow could deliver this week. (USATSI)
Brandon Morrow could deliver this week. (USATSI)

Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow is starting to look like a possible sleeper. While that phrase has been uttered multiple times since Morrow entered the league, it's rarely resulted in Fantasy success. Outside of an injury-shortened 2012, Morrow has mainly been all hype. Based on how things have started out in 2014, there's a chance he can finally fill some of that promise, at least in the short term.

Morrow enters the week as a two-start option with two decent matchups. He'll pitch at Minnesota and at Cleveland. Coming into the week, Al Melchior ranked Morrow as the 15th best two-start pitcher in the Fantasy First Pitch. Those two starts aren't the only reason to depend on Morrow, however.

In his first two starts, Morrow has actually shown some positive signs. His average fastball has come in at 95.26, per BrooksBaseball.net. That's the hardest Morrow has thrown in April since 2009. On top of that, his strikeout rate is healthy, his walk rate is low and his ground ball rate has taken a huge step forward. Keep in mind, all of this is based on just two starts, one of which was against the Astros, so we'll need to temper our expectations. 

Strikeouts have always been a part of Morrow's arsenal, so it's really a question of whether his control and ground ball rate will last. It's tough to determine whether the control will hold up this early. With his ground ball rate, we can at least look at some of the early PITCHf/x numbers to see if he's doing anything different.

The main thing that sticks out in his PITCHf/x numbers is that Morrow has relied on his sinker more often this year. He didn't use the pitch in 2013, and threw just 10 in 2012. It's been an offering he's used in the past, but it seems to have been pushed aside in recent seasons. It actually hasn't been a great ground ball pitch for him yet, but it at least could show a conscious decision by Morrow to try and get more grounders this year. Over his career, he's been an extreme fly ball guy. The ground ball rate won't stay this high, but there's at least a chance he's working to get more of them.

All this comes with the huge caveat of health. Morrow has rarely been healthy enough to contribute for an entire season, so he's more of a temporary fix. He has a chance to put up strong numbers this week, but Fantasy owners shouldn't expect him to still be around in July. Until then, he could provide some strong Fantasy numbers. 

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