2013 Toronto Blue Jays Reviews: Brandon Morrow
Apr 14, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow (23) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY SportsName: Brandon Morrow
Position : Starting Pitcher
June 1, 2013 – Blue Jays place Brandon Morrow on 15-day disabled list with right forearm tightness.
August 1, 2013 – Blue Jays transfer Brandon Morrow from 15-day DL to 60-day DL with entrapped radial nerve in right forearm, ending his season.
After a stellar 2012 campaign that saw Brandon Morrow step up and become the ace of the Blue Jays staff, Toronto expected then 28-year-old right-hander to build off of it and continue his evolution to staff ace. The team saw his 10-7 record, 2.96 ERA, and 143 ERA+ as signs of a maturing pitcher that was taking a step forward.
With the offseason additions of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson, Toronto showed their faith in Morrow by slotting him into the number two spot in the rotation, right behind Dickey. All he had to do was stay healthy and pitch like he had in 2012 and the sky was the limit for Morrow in 2013.
Well, if the transactions above were any indication of his health card in 2013, staying healthy was the biggest issue Morrow had coming into the season, and it again held him back this past season.
Morrow pitched fantastic in his first start of the season, going six strong while allowing just 1 run to the Cleveland Indians on April 3rd, striking out 8 in the process. However, like the rest of the Blue Jays pitching staff, he would succumb to a slow start from there, averaging just 5 and 1/3 innings per start over his next five outings, and pitching to a 6.15 ERA during those starts. What was most troubling was his inability to generate swinging strikes, getting them on just 7% of the pitches thrown during that slide.
However, he would come out with another solid start to begin May, throwing 8 innings of 2-run ball against the Seattle Mariners on May 5th. That start was not without consequence though, as Morrow would experience back and neck discomfort during a bullpen session just days later and would not make another start until May 18th. The old struggles returned from there, with Morrow only lasting 14 total innings in his final three starts of the season, with a 8.36 ERA to show for his work.
Brandon Morrow would leave his final start of the year, on May 28th against Atlanta, after just two innings of work. What originally looked like a mild forearm strain quickly devolved into a trapped radial nerve. He would make one attempt at a rehab start, but would ultimately be placed on the 60-day DL on August 1st, ending his season before it ever got started.
As I sit here today, it’s particularly hard to see what the Blue Jays will get out of Brandon Morrow in 2014. We’re obviously not looking at a Ricky Romero fall from grace here, but there is a certain amount of uncertainty toward what role Morrow will serve next season. With Toronto having several holes to fill in the rotation, the team has already shot down the thought of moving Morrow back to the bullpen, so there is some desire to see a healthy Morrow return to the rotation next season.
That all said, Brandon Morrow’s 2011 season is his benchmark in terms of innings pitched, and would seemingly be a good starting point to believe that is what we may see from a healthy Morrow. His 2012 season, also curtailed by injuries to a degree, would be an optimistic view at this stage, but it isn’t one the Blue Jays are banking on for 2014 either.