Brandon Morrow

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Brandon Morrow Seattle red cap.jpg

Brandon John Morrow

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Brandon Morrow was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft with the fifth overall pick. He made his pro debut that summer with the AZL Mariners, going 0-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 7 games before being promoted to the Inland Empire 66ers for one game at the end of the season.

Morrow suffers from Type 1 diabetes.

He made his MLB debut on April 3, 2007. He pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Oakland A's in his debut. After the 2009 season, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in return for Brandon League. While Morrow had been used primarily as a reliever in the major leagues up to that point, the Blue Jays made him a starter to begin the 2010 season. While Morrow was somewhat inconsistent at the beginning of the season, he put his name among the American League's strikeout leaders from the start of the year. On August 7, he had a game for the ages, not giving up any hit to the Tampa Bay Rays until two men were out in the 9th. Evan Longoria then hit a ball off the glove of diving 2B Aaron Hill for a single, but Morrow retired the next batter, Dan Johnson, on strikes to complete the one-hitter. It was the first complete game and the first shutout of his career, and his 17 strikeouts were just one shy of the team record, set by Roger Clemens in 1998. The Blue Jays shut down Morrow in early September in order not to unduly pile up his innings pitched. He ended the year with a record of 10-7, 4.49 in 26 starts, striking out 178 batters in 146 innings. After the All-Star break, he was 5-1, 3.69 in 9 starts, his only loss coming in his final start against the New York Yankees.

In 2011, he had another good season for the Jays, finishing at 11-11 with a 4.72 ERA in 30 starts. More importantly, he struck out 203 batters in 179 1/3 innings, allowing only 162 hits. The Jays signed him to a long-term contract after the season, which received some criticism because his career record was one game below .500 at that point. However, the Jays were convinced that he was about to have a break-out season, and that his electric stuff could make him one of the major leagues' top pitchers for the next few years. Indeed, he proved them right at the start of the 2012 season, as he started the year throwing great. On May 3rd, he pitched his second career shutout, a three-hitter over the Los Angeles Angels, then on May 19th repeated with another three-hit shutout, this time over the New York Mets, to bring his record on the season to 5-2, 2.63. His next start was disastrous, however, as he lasted only 2/3 of an inning against the Texas Rangers, giving up 6 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks; the Jays lost that game, 14-3. He had improved his record to 7-4, 3.01, when he was forced to leave a start on June 11th after throwing only 9 pitches, victim of a strained left oblique muscle. He ended up making only 21 starts that year, with an excellent 2.96 ERA in 124 2/3 innings and a 10-7 record.

Morrow's injury woes got worse in 2013, when he was counted on to be part of a great starting rotation - on paper. He made only 10 starts, going 2-3, 5.63, and giving up 63 hits in 54 1/3 innings, a clear sign that he was off after always allowing less than a hit per inning in his 6 first seasons in the majors. He was better by the time 2014 rolled around, and after losing his first start with a poor performance, he recorded his first win in 11 months on April 9th when he defeated the Houston Astros, 7-3. After going 1-2, 5.93 in 6 starts however, he went back to the disabled list on May 3rd, this time out for a predicted two months because of a torn tendon in his index finger. He came back in September, making 7 appearances, all out of the bullpen and picking up a loss to finish at 1-3, 5.67. On November 1st, the Blue Jays decided to buy out the last year of his contract, making him a free agent. On December 16th, he signed a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres, hoping to put his career back on track.

Morrow only made 5 starts with the Padres in 2015, going 2-0, 2.73, then in 2016 was moved to the bullpen in the hope that a change of role would have a positive impact on his health. He did well in limited opportunities, going 1-0, 1.69 in 18 games. The Los Angeles Dodgers then took a flier on him in 2017 (in spite of his posting a 7.20 ERA in the minors during the first part of the year) and it turned out to be an inspired move as he was one of the mainstays of their bullpen, going 6-0, 2.06 with 2 saves in 45 games as one of the main set-up men for closer Kenley Jansen. He was outstanding during the postseason, as he gave up just one run in 3 2/3 innings in 3 games in the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks and did not give up any runs in 4 NLCS games against the Chicago Cubs. In the World Series against the Houston Astros, manager Dave Roberts leaned heavily on his bullpen, and as result Brandon was only the second pitcher ever to pitch in all seven games of a World Series, following Darold Knowles in 1973. He had one bad outing, which came in Game 5, when he gave up 4 runs without retiring a batter in the 7th inning; in the remaining 6 appearances, he gave up 1 run in 5 1/3 innings. He was running on fumes by the end of the series, but still managed to strike out the only batter he faced in the decisive Game 7 after the Astros had jumped to an early lead which they held until the end of the game.

On December 12, 2017, he signed a two-year free agent deal with the Chicago Cubs worth $19 million. He was looked upon as the potential closer if the team was unable to re-sign Wade Davis or bring in another pitcher with closing experience. After a solid start to his 2018 season, he added his name to the list of weird non-baseball injuries when he injured his back trying to take off his pants. He pulled something while standing awkwardly performing the normally innocuous operation and was placed on the disabled list on June 19th. he came back 10 days later and went into the All-Star break with 22 saves and a 1.47 ERA, having pitched as well or better than they could have hoped. However, he returned to the DL just before the Cubs resumed play after the break on July 19th, this time with inflammation in his right biceps. It was expected to be a short stint, but it turned out that he was unable to return, either during the season or the postseason. In early December, it was announced that he had undergone arthroscopic surgery on his elbow a month earlier and that this would also delay the start of his 2019 season. The delay turned out to be longer than anticipated as he experienced a number of setbacks in his recovery from the operation. On August 21st, the Cubs announced that he would not return that year. It was also unlikely that the team would pick up the option year on his contract, given his lack of health.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2011)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Barry M. Bloom: "Morrow 'unsung hero' of LA's dominant 'pen",, October 24, 2017. [1]
  • Carrie Muskat: "Morrow ready for spotlight of new role: Newly appointed closer aims for postseason success after breakout",, February 10, 2018. [2]

Related Sites[edit]