Brandon Morrow Gets Back On Track With New Pitch

By Thom Tsang

Brandon Morrow’s story has been told over and over in his young career in the bigs by now: great stuff, poor results. It was what led the Mariners to cut bait on the then-24 year old, and now two mixed seasons with the Blue Jays later, Morrow has yet to shake the inconsistency tag, posting a disappoint 4.98/1.29 split this season, offering glimpses of his elite strikeout ability, but mixed in between a steady number of frustrating starts.

The 26-year old is trying to change the story, however.

After primarily relying on his fastball/slider combo almost exclusively this season and trying unsuccessfully to pace himself to go longer in games, the righty has recently added some new vocabulary to his pitching repertoire, learning a cut fastball that Morrow debuted only three starts ago.

While the overall results of introducing the pitch to the Boston Red Sox didn’t exactly pan out (Morrow was hammered both outings, giving up 13 runs in 9.2 innings), the Jays current #2 starter finally got himself back on track yesterday afternoon against the New York Yankees with a stellar 8-inning shutout (4H, 8K) performance that will probably go down as the best outing of his 2011 season.

Now, it’s true that Morrow has always had the stuff to throw games like yesterday’s, and his achilles’ heel has always been putting multiple outings like this together. There is reason for optimism, however; in his last two starts, Morrow has managed to generate a GB/FB ratio of 1.2, over his regular season 0.85 and breaking a streak of 7 straight starts going back to the beginning of August where he put up a season low 0.46 GB/FB with an ERA of 6.58 in that stretch.

This being said, it’s probably a long way because we can declare that whatever is ailing Morrow’s performance has been “fixed”. The cutter is a work in progress, and 3 games of occasionally tossing it in does not fully demonstrate how it will impact Morrow’s pitching approach.

But still, there are now two games where Morrow can try to adjust his extreme-fly ball tendencies, and perhaps try to make up for some of the regression that he’s had this season. While it’s not all about generating ground balls, developing the new pitch that will help him in that department should go a long way into making the talented righty a more complete pitcher who won’t have to rely on striking out more than a batter an inning headed into next season.

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