At this point, over parts of two seasons, we have a sample size of 50.2 innings and 924 pitches for Morrow working out of the rotation. Here's how he's done:
94.7mph average fastball
11.5% swinging strikes
44% fly balls
21% line drives
His tRA and FIP aren't anything special, but that's largely due to his having allowed nine home runs; if you apply a little regression, then, given his ball in play profile, we would've expected him to allow six homers instead, which would bring his FIP as a starter down to about 4.50 (not adjusted for park). That's right around the league average.
Lost in all of the talk over whether or not Morrow should go back to AAA is the fact that, right now, he looks to be something like an average to slightly below-average starter, making him a Major League #3 or #4. It'd be great if he could spot his fastball or throw consistent offspeed stuff or keep the ball on the ground, but the ability to miss bats makes up for an awful lot, and, so far, Morrow has missed bats like a crazy person.
Put simply, a double-digit swinging strike rate for a starter is terrific. If you go over to StatCorner and play around with the leaderboards, you'll find that it's really hard to suck when at least one out of every ten of your pitches generates a whiff. As evidenced by guys like Edinson Volquez and AJ Burnett, you don't even have to throw that many strikes. Getting a batter to swing and miss is the greatest single indicator that a pitcher is doing something right, and Morrow has done that as well as pretty much anyone.
Brandon Morrow is greatly flawed. That much is undeniable. He doesn't have anything resembling good command, and his secondary stuff - particularly his change - need a lot more work. But where a big part of me wants to see him go to Tacoma to work some things out, he could prove to be a valuable asset to this team down the stretch, starting tomorrow. People have been so concerned about Morrow's future that his present value has kind of flown under the radar, and despite all of his shortcomings and inconsistencies, he still looks like he can help the team win now. And that's important. Everything goes out the window if we get steamrolled by the Rangers, but as long as Bedard stays on the mound and Morrow's shoulder doesn't act up, I like the look of this rotation. It's the sort of rotation that a team could ride a long long way.