I’m sure I’m only preaching to the choir here, but I just can’t help but wonder: what might have been if Brandon Morrow‘s breakout season hadn’t been untimely cut by an oblique injury?
I don’t think it would’ve been a stretch to say that he probably would have been one of the AL’s best pitchers over time he missed, anchoring a Toronto Blue Jays rotation that was falling apart due to injuries and poor years from Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez; but just how good? Could we be mentioning him in the Cy Young race along with the likes of Justin Verlander?
If Morrow’s performance since returning from the 2+ month layoff is any indication, that may well have been the case, if health was on his side. Morrow has made just 2 starts since being reinstated from the DL, and the results are well, Morrow-esque: 3 earned runs in 11.1 innings, 14 hits, 12 strikeouts to 2 walks. Even that first start after the layoff, the one that saw Morrow’s day cut short after just 88 pitches, was as impressive as a non-win-qualifying outing as you’ll see, with the righty striking out 7 batters in 4.2 innings against just one walk.
It’s the improved control this season that really got Morrow to the breakout season that he was enjoying earlier this season, and while the sample size is small, he seems to be in fine form in that regard, even if he’s given up more hits over the pair of outings than he has on average this season. Morrow’s fastball velo is as good as it’s been all season, sitting at around 94mph on average, and though he mostly stayed away from his curveball in the first outing, there was no problem with Morrow using a full mix of all of his pitches in Friday’s shutdown victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 28-year old, who was signed to a 3-year extension before the start of the season, had long been thought to have the upside to put up the numbers he has this season. After 2 full years with a significant ERA-FIP difference, Morrow’s counting numbers are finally more in line with the under-the-hood ones. The Blue Jays haven’t had a whole lot of good news when it comes to the starting pitching and if Morrow can take the 5-or-so starts he has left, and solidify himself as the anchor and ace of this rotation headed into next season, it would go a long way into injecting some much-needed optimism as to the clubs’ chances in 2013.