Braves Transactions: 7/6/17

akeel for a chance to play in the majors

Optioned RHP Matt Wisler to AAA Gwinnett.

Recalled RHP Akeel Morris from AAA Gwinnett.

Placed AA Mississippi RHP Guillermo Zuniga on the 7-day DL.

Akeel Morris (Photo by Ed Gardner/Mississippi Braves)

Optioned Matt Wisler to AAA Gwinnett

That didn’t last long.

Recalled just a day earlier, Wisler is headed back from whence he came. I wasn’t terribly optimistic about the call-up yesterday, and it seems I may not have been alone.

I still don’t think it’s time to bail on Wisler’s potential to be a useful pitcher. He’s only 24, and worse pitchers than him have turned things around at that age or older. He has the talent to make this work. The prospect flame is much dimmer than it used to be, but it’s still a tad too early to consider it completely extinguished.

Recalled RHP Akeel Morris from AAA Gwinnett

Morris, like most of the Atlanta organization, was acquired from the New York Mets in a trade for Kelly Johnson. He made his MLB debut in ’15 with the Mets, pitching 2/3 of an inning, walking 3 and giving up 3 hits. This MLB stint should go better, since all he’d have to do is allow only 8 baserunners per inning to do so.

With a 2.74 ERA in Gwinnett, Morris seems ready for the challenge. The peripheral stats, however, are in disagreement as to whether he’s likely to succeed in the majors. Let’s take a look:

FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, is a decent predictor of future ERA. It’s actually better at predicting future ERA than current ERA. Morris’ AAA FIP is 3.36. The only factors involved with FIP are HR, BB, HBP, Ks, and IP (with a few adjustments for park). It ignores hits completely aside from those that leave the park, and it really isolates the pitcher-batter duel. In 29.2 innings, Morris has issued 16 free passes (not great), but he’s limited HRs (2) and gotten plenty of Ks (37). Hence, the mostly optimistic FIP of 3.36.

DRA stands for Deserved Run Average, and it’s, uh, well, way more involved. If you want, there’s plenty of reading on DRA through that link, but that reading can, at times, be pretty heavy. DRA accounts for pretty much everything you can think of, and it tends to be slightly more predictive than FIP. Morris’s DRA, however, significantly diverges from his FIP. It’s 5.26.

So, here we have these two very different numbers from two fairly similar, and similarly predictive, metrics. FIP suggests Morris is ready for the MLB leap, because he gets strikeouts and limits home runs. DRA, on the other hand, suggests it could be a struggle. DRA’s reasons aren’t clear. It could be that Morris is benefiting from good framing, facing bad hitters, even favorable conditions like the weather when he pitches.

We don’t really know which to trust, but it shouldn’t be about picking one over the other. What they really tell us is that Akeel Morris is something of a question mark coming to the majors, his 2017 success not easily summed up by a single metric. It’s interesting when FIP and DRA disagree by nearly 2 runs, and it will be interesting to see if anything about Morris’s game gives us any hints as to why the discrepancy occurred.

As for what we can expect from Morris in the short-term? Velocity, in the mid-90’s, with some iffy control and command. If he can stay away from all the free passes, he and his fastball might find a permanent home in the big leagues.

Placed AA Mississippi RHP Guillermo Zuniga on the 7-day DL

Zuniga was mysteriously promoted earlier in the week, and now we may know why. As I searched for some reasons why Zuniga was promoted prior to being DL’d, OFR’s Chris Jervis found it: the AA roster allows for two more players than does the Rookie ball roster. Both teams use a 25 man active roster, but the reserve roster, which we commonly refer to as the 40-man at the MLB level, allows for more. At AA, it’s 37, while it’s 35 in Rookie ball. When Zuniga needed a DL stint, he was promoted to a level that had more roster room for that short-term DL stint.

It’s the 7-day DL, so hopefully this isn’t too drastic a setback for Zuniga’s development, and the only long-term ramification from the injury is that I learned about minor league roster limits.

About Brent Blackwell 171 Articles
Brent Blackwell also writes for College Football By The Numbers at www.cfbtn.com.

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