2014 Rockies Player Season Review – Franklin Morales

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies MLB: Colorado Rockies at Texas Rangers

IF FRANKIE LOOKS FRUSTRATED ITS NOTHING COMPARED TO HOW ROXWALKOFF FANS FELT EVERYTIME HE STROOD TO THE MOUND…OR AFTER HE WAS LIFTED!

Is there any player who elicits more anger among Rockies and especially roxwalkoff fans? Just the sight of one Franklin Morales coming out of the dugout elicited comments like, “Oh no, its Morales, were dead!” even in 15-2 games with 1 out left (just kidding). So, I am sure this report card isn’t going to make many happy.

 

I think that Morales did a good job for the Rox in 2014.

 

What!!! Are you crazy? Do you watch the games Doc? I know you have purple-tinted lenses in your glasses, but are you legally blind?

 

Okay, I need to put that comment in context: I think Morales did a good job as an occasional 5th starter, long-man, and extra lefty out of the pen. And remember, he only cost the team $1.7 million and Jonathan Herrera. So, am I crazy? Let’s take a look:

 

Season 6-9 5.37 ERA 142.1 inn 1.623 WHIP 100:65 K/BB ERA+ 79 FIP 5.42
Home: 4-3 4.92 ERA 75.0 inn 1.573 WHIP 61:34 K/BB HR all 9 .330 BABIP
Road: 2-6 5.88 ERA 67.1 inn 1.678 WHIP 39:31 K/BB HR all 15 .309 BABIP
Starter 5-8 5.46 ERA 118.2 inn 1.652 WHIP 82:56 K/BB HR all 18 .322 BABIP
Reliever: 1-1 4.94 ERA 23.2 inn 1.479 WHIP 18:   9 K/BB HR all   6 .308 BABIP

 

Vs. Right .313 BA .392 OBP .531 Slug .923 WHIP 19 HR/463 PA 76:53 K/BB .343 BABIP
Vs. Left .253 BA .317 OBP .383 Slug .699 WHIP 5 HR/183 PA 23:12 K/BB .267 BABIP

 

It should be noted that yes, a 79 ERA+ is pretty bad. Morales has had years of 141 (2007, 39.1 Inn) 105 (2009 , 40 inn), 120 (2011, 46.1 inn), 112 (2012, 76.1 inn). Of course you see the big difference – Morales at around 50 innings is a decent pitcher. At 142.1? Not so good.

 

Look, you don’t get sub 4 ERAs from your #5 guy in the rotation…unless you are the Washington Nationals. The Rox were up against it in 2014 with regards to starting pitching. In their plan, the Rox figured, hey, injuries happen, we might have to get 6-8 starts from Franklin, and we can live with that, and then use him against lefties. Had that plan worked, I think his stats even as a starter would have been a lot better. But when you throw him out for 22 starts? That is a disaster waiting to happen. Especially when you are not just throwing him out for 22 starts but you are in just innings as a starter you go from a career high of 76 innings in 2012 to 118.2 in just starter innings. That was simply too big a jump in a single year, if you want good outcomes. But, the fact is they had to throw him out there.

 

Even with those additional innings, Morales actually gave them some good stretches:

4/3 @ Miami 5.1 inn 8 Hits 3 ER 4:2 K/BB
4/8 CHW 6.1 8 6 3:4
4/17 @ SDP 6.0 4 1 5:1
4/22 SFG 7.0 5 1 7:2
4/28 @ ARZ 5.0 7 4 2:2

 

In that stretch Morales was sent to the bullpen after the White Sox game for 1 inning, but thanks to the injury to Brett Anderson, he was back in the rotation. But remember how bad the Rox records in games pitched by their 4th and 5th starters was in the past few years? Well, in April, they were 3-2 in his games and Morales was 3-1 himself. Not bad. And if he had gone back to the pen, things would have been okay. We know better though. Anderson was still hurt and Chatwood was done by the end of April, and Morales had to stick.

 

But even May wasn’t horrible for a 5th starter (not great…but acceptable for a 5th starter):

5/3 NYM 5.0 inn 9 Hits 5 ER 5:1
5/8 @ Texas 6.0 inn 6 Hits 4 ER 5:3
5/13 @KCR 5.0 inn 8 Hits 4 ER 0:4 (not a misprint
5/20 SFG 6.0 inn 5 Hits 3 ER 6:1
5/25 @ ATL 4.2 inn 5 Hits 5 ER 1:3
5/31 @ CLE 5.1 inn 8 Hits 6 ER 3:2

 

Now, needless to say, those last 2 starts were dreadful, and even with the issues in the rotation, they had to pull him. For May he was 2-4 in his starts, making the team 5-6 overall in his starts. The starting had to end. He then spent the whole of June in the bullpen, where if he had only done 6 of his 8 outings, he would have been the savior of the bullpen, giving them in those 6 outings 9 innings of 0 ER (0 Runs period), allowing 9 hits and a 5:3 K/BB ration. Important outings at that point in June.

 

Of course his line in the other two reliever outings of June?

6/15 @SFG 3.0 inn 6 Hits 4 ER 3:2 K/BB
6/23 STL 2.0 inn 1 Hits 3 ER 2:2 K/BB

 

If there is one word to describe Franklin Morales both his first time here and in 2014 it is inconsistent. I mean 6 outstanding outings and 2 just dreadful ones. Just as he had 4 good outings as a starter (less than 3 runs) and 4 dreadful outings (5 more more ER).

 

By the end of June though things were even worse in the rotation, and so back Frankie went into the rotation, and…he wasn’t awful:

 

7/3 LAD 5.0 inn 4 Hits 2 ER 4:2 K/BB
7/8 SDP 5.2 inn 4 Hits 1 ER 6:3 K/BB
7/21 WSN 6.0 inn 9 Hits 3 ER 3:4 K/BB
7/28 PIT 4.0 inn 6 Hits 2 ER 3:5 K/BB

 

First, how does a guy pitch all 4 starts at home? Anyways, 3 solid starts and a 4th start that didn’t kill the team but when your guy throws 99 pitches through 4 (5 walks don’t help you much), you push your pen into action sooner than you want. But despite throwing 3 pretty good starts the managed to   only go 1-3 in those starts. They won the SDP start going 2-1, but lost the other 3 scoring only 2 runs in the other good starts and then losing 7-5 in the Pittsburg game.

 

But he did well enough to get to keep his spot in the rotation for 3 more games in August (alongside 2 relief spots that didn’t go so well – 3 inn, 2 H, 1 ER, 3:0 K/BB and 2 inn, 3 H, 2 ER, 1:1 K/BB). In August:

 

8/1 @ DET 6.0 inn 6 Hits 3 ER 2:4 K/BB (yes)
8/10 @ ARZ 6.0 inn 5 Hits 2 ER 2:2 K/BB
8/22 MIA 4.0 inn 8 Hits 6 ER 4:2 K/BB
8/27 @ SFG 6.0 inn 7 Hits 1 ER 6:1 K/BB (yes, he can do it)

 

The Rox went 1-3 in those 4 games, scoring only 2 runs in 2 of the losses, and getting bombed in the other 13-5 in his horrible start vs. the Marlins. So, yes, the team is now 7-12 in his starts, but to be fair to him, only 2 of those last 8 starts were bad (the 4 inn game and the 6 ER game). But, if you were to look at those numbers for a 5th starter before the season (the earned runs that is), you would think the team would win more of those games, especially at home. But at this point he had already pitched 124 innings for the Rox, and it was clear he was hitting the wall when September came around. He threw just 3 more starts in early Septemeber:

 

9/1 SFG 4.1 inn 9 Hits 7 ER 3:4 K/BB
9/7 SDP 6.0 inn 4 Hits 0 ER 6:2 K/BB
9/13@STL 4.0 inn 5 Hits 4 ER 2:2 K/BB

 

Only 1 of those last 3 starts was positive, an quite positive, with his other 2 outings pretty poor, buy the Rox managed to win 2 of them, leaving the team at 9-13 in his starts, on a team that nearly lost 100 games, on a team that has struggled to win games pitched by their #5 starters.

 

He closed the season with 5 relief appearances, 4 of which were very good – 2 inn, 1 H, 0ER/1 inn, 1 H, 0 ER/ .1 inn, 0 H, 0 ER/ .1 inn, 1 H, 0 ER – and with no walks in those appearances. The other appearance was awful, facing 4 batters, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks and 2 ER while getting no one out.

 

And so there is the season. Very inconsistent to say the least. But if you break the season down outing by outing you find you get a few outstanding outings, some good outings, and quite a few bad outings. He was in other words up and down but his stats are skewed by his bad outings being particularly bad. He had 4 bad relief outings: 1 in June, 1 in August (his 2 relief outings in August both resulted in runs scored, though one was a 1 ER in 3 IP – the other 2 innings of 2 ER), and one in September. So that is 4 out of 16 relief outings that were poor, or just 25%. That is pretty good for a reliever, especially a guy who was either a lefty-only guy or a long-guy. I think the Rox had to be happy with that breakdown.

 

As for his starts, he had 11 starts allowing less than 3 ER and going at least 5 innings. He had 3 outings allowing 4 ER and going at least 5 innings. And then 8 poor outings (either 5+ runs or not going at least 5 innings). Again, if you use these stats, not too bad…for a 5th starter.

 

So, does my argument make more sense? He was a decent 5th starter, a slightly better than okay reliever, and a guy who ate up 142 innings for a team that only had one other pitcher throw more innings (Jorge De La Rosa). And again, a guy who cost the team a back-up poor hitting infielder and $1.7 million dollars.

 

I give you Franklin Morales, the best Rockies 5th starter in quite some time, and a pretty valuable piece on a bad team.

 

2014 Season Grade:

 

As a 5th Starter – C – okay, I am being generous in seeing 50% of the starts as okay. But you don’t expect to see more than 50% of your 5th starter games being in that category? I don’t think I am too generous here, even if you just evaluate it on pitchers in general.

 

As a reliever – B – 75% of his outings were either scoreless or allowing 1 run over 3 innings. As bad as the relievers were on this team, Morales may have had one of the best percentages of 0 runs or 1 run in greater than 3 innings. For a comparison Adam “Zero” Ottavino had 20 out of 75 outings that had the same level of performance (granted more outings) and Latroy Hawkins was 14 of 57. So Morales did a pretty solid job.

 

Overall Grade: C+ – Again, you have to evaluate him based on his role, and while the stats like WHIP and ERA would show you a poor pitcher, he did a good job of providing what the Rockies needed more often than not. No, he isn’t great, but on this team, with this rotation and bullpen, he was better than we realized.

 

2015 Projection – Okay, here is your chance to remind me how crazy I am, because if he was really so solid, why is he still a free agent at this point in the off-season? Well, simply put, you don’t rush out and worry about finding starting rotation depth (7th or 8th option) and a lefty-only guy for your pen. Especially when you can sign him for around $1.5-2.0 million. I am sure he will be pitching somewhere in 2015, and I wonder if the new regime in Colorado will give him another shot? Look, there are a lot of teams looking to fill out their bullpens and such. The Rox are fairly well stocked in the left-handed department for the bullpen, and they prefer to go with others for the starting rotation.

 

My best guess for Morales:

 

40 App 45 inn 3.75 ERA
5 Starts 30 inn 4.75 ERA

 

Again…not great, but I am betting he is pitching somewhere in 2015 and giving more good outings than bad.

 

 

 

 

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