What Should The Toronto Blue Jays Do With Brandon Morrow?
There is no doubt he has the stuff. There is no doubt that he can be a staff ace based on the level of talent and shear nastiness of his pitches. But for the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher, Brandon Morrow has found himself in an all too familiar position yet again, the disabled list (DL).
The tantalizing Morrow finds himself sitting on the 60 day DL with a torn tendon sheath in his throwing hand index finger. There is hope that Morrow can return in July should he be able to avoid surgery, and hopefully he will be fully ready to go for the stretch run post- all-star break.
In 2012, which statistically was Morrow’s best season, he was limited to 21 starts due to a strained oblique. It cost him what was looking like a very promising season where he looked like an ace. He pitched to the tune of a 2.96 ERA, and had three complete game shutouts. He also K’d 7.80 batters per 9 innings and had his fastball command working almost all season.
The promising 2012 led to big expectations on an overhauled roster for 2013. Morrow’s great 2012 had him open the season as the number two starter in the rotation. However, constant pain in almost all of his ten starts, a severe decline in his velocity, and the constant battering he received in his starts led to Morrow being shut down for the season which was the be later revealed as an entrapped radial nerve.
And now we are here in 2014. Morrow has only made six starts before his injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 2nd. The torn sheath in his right index finger is an unfortunate injury and should Morrow require season ending surgery, many feel as if he has thrown his last pitch as a Blue Jay.
The constant trips to the DL and failed expectations have led many people to question what to do with the right hander. In my mind there are really two options.
Morrow has a team option on his deal for 2015 that would pay him $10 million with a $1 million buyout. The Blue Jays have invested so much money and time in hoping Morrow could stay healthy, because it doesn’t take an expert to know Morrow has the stuff to be a dominant pitcher.
If Morrow is able to return to the mound in July and let’s say he makes his first start after the all-star break, he may be able to get about 10-12 starts to close out the year. No matter what the outcome of those starts is, based on injury history, the Blue Jays should decline Morrow’s $10 million option and try to re-sign him for cheaper. If the Blue Jays did not offer a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson this past off-season, there is no way the Blue Jays pick up Morrow’s option to pray he stays healthy.
Morrow could easily walk should they decline but it is the best way to attempt keep him around and try to milk whatever talent he can give you.
My theoretical option 1 is dependent on Morrow coming back and making starts in late July to the end of the season.
If Morrow does not come back to pitch in 2014, in my mind he should not be brought back. A possible option for Morrow would be the bullpen but the constant shuffling of bullpen to starter to bullpen to starter in his days with the Seattle Mariners, really seems to have messed Morrow up.
The Blue Jays have committed to Morrow as a starter and really has not proven the ability to stay healthy. In my mind, I doubt the Jays try Morrow as a reliever.
Quite simply, Brandon Morrow has proven his lack of durability and ability to stay off the DL. If the Blue Jays want to be competitive for the rest of 2014 and next year in 2015, they need proven starters with track records of staying healthy. Of course, injuries can happen to any pitcher but given Morrow’s history, he really cannot be relied upon to contribute 30+ starts.
I would give it a 50/50 chance that Brandon Morrow has thrown his last pitch as a Blue Jay. It will be interesting to see if he can return to the Blue Jays in July, in which case he can do his best last gasp effort to convince the Blue Jays to bring him back. If Morrow does not return, I wouldn’t find it surprising if Morrow wasn’t a Blue Jay in 2015.