Based on ZiPS projections, Eli Morgan is expected to finish 2023 with the following stats:
33 G, 13 GS, 88.0 IP, 23.5% K%, 7.0% BB%, 4.60 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 0.4 fWAR
Read what our writers think, then vote in the poll below and drop your own opinions in the comments and on the Covering the Corner Discord.
Merritt Rohlfing’s prediction: UNDER
There’s a lot to like, or at least be intrigued by, with Eli Morgan. He has unabashedly the best changeup on the Guardians 40-man roster, he added a couple of ticks to his fastball in 2022, and for a few months there he was incredibly effective.
In the first half of his season (25 starts) Morgan had a 2.65 ERA, a 2.98 FIP, and had struck out 47 in 37.2 innings pitched. He looked like another lovely little diamond for the Guardians and every bit like a fixture in the ‘pen for years to come. Sure, the fastball wasn’t anything to write home about, a troubling thing to say about any pitcher, but his secondary stuff was so dominant it seemed like he could unicorn his way to excellence.
That’s the problem with these “tale of two seasons” type of years though. The other half always stinks. I guess you could write a tale of two seasons about, I don’t know, Juan Soto in 2019 — where it’s just really good and really good — but that’s not a very good use of sideways literary reference at all.
For Morgan, that second half was every bit as disheartening as the first half was exciting. In his second 25 appearances spanning 29.1 innings, his ERA ballooned to 4.30 with a corresponding 4.34 FIP; he struck out just 25 against 27 hits, and his OPS against bounced more than 200 points to .732. For a team chasing a playoff berth, this was less than ideal and it led to him becoming a bit of an odd man out.
That’s why the only reason I have any hope that he will crest that 0.4 WAR projection is basically an injury to other pitchers. With Sam Hentges now surrounded by question marks and the inherent mystery of the relief pitcher in general, I can’t feel one way or the other about Morgan pitching 66.2 innings as he did a year ago. It could certainly happen. He could also not get any better. And as I said before, that’s all that matters with a flawed stat like WAR for relievers, is how much he will pitch. On top of that, for some reason, ZiPS decided he’s going to start 13 games, which is all kinds of worrisome just to think about.
I think he can get to 50 or so, there are a lot of innings that need eating. Cleveland isn’t always eager to burn options on young guys, but if they need it they’ll pull the trigger. If Morgan does get more than 50 or 55 innings, that’s great, because he’s actually performing. With his repertoire though — particularly the lackluster fastball — and his track record of being a bit ebb and flow-y, that’s why it’s more questions than answers for Morgan.
Will Eli Morgan finish with an fWAR over or under 0.4?