Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influence.
Impatience is as much a part of real baseball as it is fantasy. Often, management hastily yo-yos young pitchers, shifting them from rotation-to-'pen and, in some maddening cases, back again. Few find their niche while others, mentally spent from the puppetry, acquire developmental scars.
Three short seasons ago, the flamethrowing righty was on the big league fast-track in Seattle. Drafted fifth overall in the 2006 draft, just ahead of Clayton Kershaw(notes), Tim Lincecum(notes) and Max Scherzer(notes), the California standout possessed the heat (high-90s fastball) and secondary meat (slider, curve and change) to become a dependable anchor. An enduring partnership with Felix Hernandez(notes) atop the Mariners rotation was sure to follow. However, control woes and the team's ninth-inning uncertainty forced many within the organization to rethink Morrow's future as a starter.
So in 2007, the revered prospect made the switch to relief, which initially proved to be the right move. Used exclusively in that role through most of '08, he notched a respectable 3.66 ERA and stellar 10.14 K/9. He also saved 16 games.
But despite his backend success, he was again forced to change hats moving back into the starting rotation in September, a position he held until spring training '09. After opening that year as the closer, injuries derailed his season which gave way to David Aardsma's(notes) rise. When healthy in August, he, naturally, was transformed back into his original incarnation.
Needing reliable bullpen help, Jack Zduriencik shipped Morrow last December to Toronto for reliever Brandon League(notes), thus ending arguably the worst mismanagement of a top pitching prospect in some time.
Though the 25-year-old has been erratic at times, it appears he's found a groove. A recently installed dialed down approach has allowed him to pop the mitt with increased accuracy, drawing weak contact when needed. The results have been downright fantastic. Including Saturday's terrific performance in Colorado (6 IP, 1 ER, 6 K), he's posted an eye-popping 2.16 ERA over his past four starts. Throw in his 10.28 K/9 on the year and ocassional bouts of wildness and he's essentially a poor man's version of Clayton Kershaw. Remarkalby, he's owned in just 13-percent of Y! leagues. For the love of Dave Stieb...
Considering his lack of starting experience, occasional missteps will happen, especially playing in the AL East. But with his luck starting to change (.341 BABIP, 3.69 FIP), the now stable Jay is finally taking flight.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 110.1 IP, 8 W, 4.09 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 116 K
QUICK HITTERS (Tidbits from Saturday's slate)
• Owners who've unfairly characterized Jeff Keppinger(notes) as rubbish are the ones truly smelling foul. Houston's Swiss Army Knife (2B/SS/3B eligible) tallied his 16th multi-hit performance since May 1 going 3-for-4 in New York. As stated in this week's Flames column, the 'Stros second baseman is only two-cat useful. But his sensational contact rate, relative job security and entrenched spot in the two-hole arrows to serviceable totals in runs and batting average. Owned in a mere 17 percent of Y! leagues, the consistent veteran is grossly underappreciated.
• Completely incognito prior to Saturday, Boston prospect Daniel Nava(notes) became only the second player in baseball history to blast a grand slam in his first career at-bat on the first pitch. With Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) and Jeremy Hermida(notes) logging infirmary time, the 27-year-old switch-hitter should see plenty of work over the next two weeks. Prior to his promotion, he collected a .294 BA with eight homers and 37 RBIs (197 at-bats) at Triple-A Pawtucket. The former independent leaguer is a quality stopgap in AL-only formats.Carlos Santana(notes). Cups are $5. Find Brandon Funston and you'll find the keg. The mega-hyped catcher, who was called up on Thursday, slammed his first of what will be many big flies in his career, a solo shot off J.D. Martin(notes) (Watch here). Including a double on the night, he drove in three runs. Unlike Mike Stanton(notes), the switch-hitting catcher will be incredibly valuable in mixed leagues the rest of the way. A line around .285-18-65-50 is very achievable. Tip the cup.
• Mixed leaguers, what does Jonny Gomes(notes) have to do to earn your respect? Win a jalapeño eating contest? Pin a polar bear? Conquer a Kardashian? Against the Royals, he crushed homers No. 8 and 9. Now with 47 RBIs on the year, he trails only Vlad Guerrero in runs driven in among outfielders. Stupidly, he's still owned in just 35-percent of Y! leagues. Due to his K-rate (26.1) and skyward ways (0.55 GB/FB) the average will eventually come down, but 25-30 homers with 100 RBIs aren't a pipe dream.
• Carlos Pena(notes) is on a monster tear. Though he's still frolicking with Mr. Mendoza (.196 BA), the streaky first baseman has homered in six straight games. On pace now for 40 bombs and 114 RBIs, he is the definitive Dave Kingman currently in baseball. Typically a much stronger post-break player (.233 BA pre, .256 post), he's worth trying to acquire when the power streak inevitably ends. Owners in a luxurious BA position with HR deficiencies should soon package a deal.
For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.
Other AL Double Dippers: None
Other NL Double Dippers: None
FEAST OR FAMINE?
Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche(notes) or Carl Pavano(notes) is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through June 11:
Images courtesy of US Presswire and the AP