The 2013 season was supposed to be a turning point for Brandon Morrow, his step forward from potential to ace. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite the way he wanted, with the right-hander not throwing single pitch after May 28th due to an entrapped radial nerve.
Now, the 2014 season stands as a pivotal year for Morrow, and for the Blue Jays for that matter. The 29-year-old could easily be considered the most important arm in the rotation, the tipping point for what could be a rebound season for the Blue Jays or what could be another in a long line of disappointment. Plain and simple, if Morrow fails to rise to the occasion, the season could be lost for the team as well.
So when Morrow struggled out of the gate this spring, allowing 11 earned runs in his first 12 innings of work, there was a growing concern that he wouldn’t make the jump. The Blue Jays responded by pushing him to the back of the rotation, hoping that taking the pressure off of him while also reducing his starts would not only allow him to flourish, but also keep him healthier in the process. That move lined Morrow up for the second start in Montreal, in the final exhibition game of the spring, and Morrow seemingly responded nicely.
In his longest start of Spring Training, Brandon Morrow tossed 5.2 inning of 2-hit ball against the New York Mets. Over the five-plus frames, Morrow also mixed in two walks while striking out 8 in a start that saw him throw 53 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
Most encouraging from the start was Morrow’s ability to mix in his pitches and keep the Mets line-up off balance. His featured a crisp change-up that complimented a good sinking fastball and a sharp slider that was diving away from right-handed bats all night.
This was the start the Blue Jays wanted to see from Morrow to close out the spring, something strong to build off of where he can gain confidence in all of his pitches and attack hitters again. Sure, it comes with the caveat that this was against a Mets line-up that is free-swinging and was likely a little over-matched, but it was a fine primer nonetheless.
With all this said, we’ll see if Brandon Morrow can carry this into his first start of the season, a match-up with the Tampa Bay Rays in the team’s fourth game of the season on April 4th. If he can, it could be a strong omen for Blue Jays fans looking for that sign that good things are going to happen.