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Matt Morris

Jim Street is the latest to suggest that the Mariners have interest in the ex-Cardinal starter.

Much has been made of Morris' horrible second half last season, so I'm going to throw this out there before I leave for the weekend, just for the hell of it:

Matt Morris, 2005:

Pre-ASB: 17.4 K%, 3.8 BB%, 1.64 GB/FB
Post-ASB: 11.1 K%, 5.3 BB%, 1.57 GB/FB
Difference: -36.4 K%, +38.5 BB%

Mark Mulder, 2004:

Pre-ASB: 17.1 K%, 7.6 BB%, 2.07 GB/FB
Post-ASB: 11.6 K%, 10.1 BB%, 2.02 GB/FB
Difference: -32.5 K%, +32.6 BB%

(Each of their home run rates skyrocketed in the second half, but because their GB/FB ratios remained consistent, I'm writing that off as a fluke.)

Both Morris and Mulder were pitching with significantly reduced velocities and altered mechanics in their respective second halves, and as a result their ratios (and thus their ERAs) fell apart. It was speculated that they were both pitching through injury, but while we have yet to see how Morris comes back, Mulder was able to throw 205 innings over 32 starts last summer, suggesting that, if anything was wrong, it got better over the winter.

Thing is, Mulder turned into a completely different pitcher in 2005 - he posted the highest GB/FB ratio of his career (2.74, near the top of the league), and he struck out just 12.8% of the batters he faced, compared to a 15.9% career mark. His walks were up, too, at 8.1%, compared to 6.0% for his career. Where before he looked a little like a young Jason Schmidt, now he looks like Jake Westbrook, and that's not the kind of pitcher a lot of people thought Mulder would turn into. He's still valuable, but he's not the guy St. Louis thought it was getting when it gave up Daric Barton (and friends).

What does this have to do with Morris? Possibly nothing at all; I just thought it would be interesting to introduce what I think is his best comparison, at this point. It's the kind of thing that would require a larger study, one that looks at the progression of a group of guys with ugly second halves way out of line with their career performances, but given how difficult it is to find reports on a pitcher's velocity, that may not be feasible.

For what it's worth, I should point out that Morris' breakdown came in his age-30 season, compared to Mulder's 26, and that Morris has the more exensive injury history. That makes it less likely that he sees a complete bounceback from his second half, and that alone makes me more than a little nervous.