If you have ever seen Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Bryan Morris pitch, you probably feel the same frustration that most Pirates fans feel. Morris has a remarkable collection of pitches, including a mid-90’s fastball and a slider that sits in the high 80’s. Based on his arsenal of pitches, Morris should be a dominant reliever, but he hasn’t reached his potential yet.
Due to the Pirates having such a deep and talented bullpen, Morris will likely find himself starting the 2014 season at Triple-A Indianapolis. For most teams, Morris would be one of their better bullpen options. In 2013, he was good, but certainly nowhere near as good as he is capable of being.
Last season, in the magical season for the Bucs, Morris pitched to a 3.46 ERA in 65 innings. The concerning numbers for Morris were his strikeout and walk rates. With the kind of movement on Morris’ pitches, there is no excuse for him to have just 5.12 K/9. To make matters worse, he had command issues in 2013 as well, with 3.88 BB/9. Another stat that won’t offer Morris any comfort is his 4.89 FIP. His FIP of more than a full run higher than his ERA means that the reliever was actually lucky in 2013.
While his Spring Training hasn’t been very successful so far, with a 6.23 ERA and four strikeouts to go with three walks, Morris was effective in Thursday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. In two innings, he didn’t allow a base-runner and he struck out three batters. Perhaps the most positive sign for Morris, however, was that he threw 12 pitches — all for strikes — in two innings of work.
Even though Morris won’t start the season with the Pirates, he will need to stay ready because injuries to pitchers can happen at any time. Barring a trade or an injury to Morris, he will almost certainly play a role in the Pirates’ attempt to return to the postseason for a second-straight season.