Blue Jays May Be Without Brandon Morrow For Rest of Season

May 28, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow (23) delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you thought the world of Toronto could not sink any lower, news came out today that injured Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow may not return this season.

Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi (via Twitter) was the first to report the uncertainty revolving around Morrow’s continued issues with a forearm injury that has kept the right-hander sidelined since coming out early from a May 28th start. ESPN has since confirmed that Morrow is set to undergo further tests on his forearm to try and diagnose what continues to plague the pitcher, reporting that Alex Anthopoulos is uncertain that Morrow will be able to return this season.

While this would seem like a blow to the Blue Jays, given their current state of play and their current situation in the rotation, it is easier to understand Anthopoulos’s decision to back off on Morrow. J.A. Happ is due to return after another rehab start at Buffalo and Esmil Rogers has filled in nicely in the rotation since making the jump from the bullpen. With the Blue Jays currently well out of the playoff picture and Morrow’s injury history, the Blue Jays are being understandable cautious.

In 10 games this season, Morrow posted a 2-3 record with an unsightly 5.63 ERA and a dwindling 7.0 K/9 ratio. His 17% K% is nearly 4% below his previous career low and batters were making contact on 81.7% of swings against Morrow this season, according to Fangraphs.

For his career, Morrow has made 30 starts just once, in 2011, when he threw a career-high 179.1 innings and struck out 203 batters. In 2012, Morrow was decidedly the ace of the staff, posting a 107 record and a sparkling 2.96 ERA. However, he made just 21 starts last season, spending a month and a half of the DL with a strained oblique muscle.

What this latest injury means for Brandon Morrow’s long-term status as a starter remains to be seen. Given his fragility, the Blue Jays may be reluctant to count on him as a long-term asset in the rotation.

However, in the short-term, what it does do is change the schematic of the Blue Jays approach at the trade deadline.

Anthopoulos has indicated that the team has no intention of moving starter Josh Johnson at the deadline, a decision that may now be more concrete than it was a week ago, knowing that the return of Morrow doesn’t fill the void left by a departing Johnson. Still, in sellers’ market where even the most middling rentals are drawing extravagant returns, even a struggling pitcher like Josh Johnson could become an attractive commodity to the right buyer. The Blue Jays may also view him as an insurance piece to Morrow by keeping Johnson at the deadline and making him a qualifying offer this winter.

Topics: Toronto Blue Jays

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  • RyanMueller

    I don’t see the point in holding onto JJ. He made it clear (through his agents words) that he doesn’t want to stay in TO. I only see this being advantageous for the JJ if they are able to re-sing him at a very reduced rate because of the @#% season he is having.

    • Andrew van Laar

      The only reason for AA to keep him past the deadline is if he wants to try and get a compensation pick. To do that he needs to offer JJ $13 million for next season. With the year JJ is having, no one might want to take him for that amount and therefore we MIGHT have to be stuck with him again. I’d rather take my chances with a Dickey, Buerle, Morrow, Happ, and one of Drabek, Hutchinson, Perez, Romero than have JJ back at $13 million.

      On a side note (but relevant to this article), is anyone else becoming disenchanted with Morrow?

      • RyanMueller

        My point exactly. If other teams are kicking the tires on JJ than see what you can get and make the trade. I don’t think that JJ will have any trouble finding a team that will give him the money he will be asking for. He still have the potential to be a top of the rotation guy and I am sure that JJ would be willing to sign a short term deal with a contender to prove that he is who we all think he should be.

        As far as Morrow is concerned, I have said it many times on other sites that he is just like AJ burnett. He will tease you with his stuff and dominate for a couple starts than let you down for a couple starts.

        • Andrew van Laar

          Couldn’t agree more about the AJ comparison.