Taijuan Walker makes first minor league rehab start

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Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker was forced to begin the season on the disabled list after he fell behind this spring with right shoulder inflammation, but he’s inching closer to joining the big club.

According to Robert Emrich of MiLB.com, Walker struck out seven batters over 4 1/3 innings last night in a minor league rehab start with High-A High Desert. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk and was pulled in the fifth inning after he reached his pitch count at 75. While the Mariners figure to have him make a couple more starts in the minors, he should beat Hisashi Iwakuma back from the disabled list.

Walker made three starts down the stretch last year and was ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the game by Baseball America in February. He possesses top-of-the-rotation potential.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.