Based on ZiPS projections, Cody Morris is expected to finish 2023 with the following stats:
21 G, 17 GS, 71.7 IP, 27.6% K%, 8.9% BB%, 4.02 ERA, 0.9 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.
Chris D. Davies’s prediction: UNDER
I’m a Cody Morris believer, but I’ve got four reasons why I have to ride the under here:
Morris is working his way back from a lat injury
Morris has only logged 195 innings across all levels since 2019 thanks to injury. As of this week, he was only playing catch up to 90 feet. If he were healthy, he’d probably break camp with the Guardians; however, based on his history, it seems hard to assume he’s going to log a lot of innings.
The Guardians’ rotation is full
Barring injury, Cleveland seems to have all five starting pitcher spots locked in. Whatever you think of Zach Plesac, at this point he’s at least earned the chance to open the year in the rotation. Should Plesac underwhelm or (God forbid) an injury pop up*, Logan Allen, Peyton Battenfield, Joey Cantillo, Xzavion Curry, and more are all ready to take a turn in the rotation, so the Guardians don’t need to keep working Morris as a starter.
Relievers don’t accumulate as much WAR
Morris’s stuff works best as a reliever. FanGraphs rates his fastball (which tops out at 98 mph), change, and curve as above-average pitches and noted “deploying him in relief allows him to make an immediate impact on a competitive big league club.” I think Cleveland will view him similarly because doing so will have the biggest benefit on the team; however, it does not bode well for Morris exceeding his projections, which include him starting 17 games. As a reliever, it’s hard to imagine even 0.9 fWAR out of Morris even under the best of circumstances, partly because …
Cleveland’s bullpen is stacked
The shelf life of most bullpen arms is comparable to an avocado, but — like the rotation — Cleveland’s bullpen looks awfully good to start the season. The nucleus of the fourth-best unit in 2022 by fWAR — Emmanuel Clase, James Karinchak, Trevor Stephan, Sam Hentges (when the shoulder stops barking), and Enyel De Los Santos — is all back and ready to contribute, and it only makes sense that experienced arms like Eli Morgan and Nick Sandlin will get opportunities over less experienced pitchers. I think Morris is the next pitcher up for the bullpen, when healthy, but starting his year in Columbus seems almost locked in.
So, for 2023, it’s an under for me. My big caveat, though, is I think 2023 is the year Morris establishes himself as an important part of the team’s long-term bullpen plans. He’s definitely one to watch.
*This will happen at some point, don’t blame me.
Will Cody Morris finish with an fWAR over or under 0.9 fWAR
This poll is closed
Tomorrow’s player: Mike Zunino