Brandon Morrow was one of the league’s best starters in 2012, but he’s been an injured mess since then, including a current disabled list stint for a torn tendon in his right index finger. And now whenever he does come back to the Blue Jays, it’ll probably be as a reliever.
Morrow actually began his MLB career as a reliever for the Mariners and even got a brief crack at the closing gig, but he’s been exclusively a starter since a trade to the Blue Jays in 2010.
Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com describes Morrow’s current rehab status as “like starting spring training all over again” and he’s yet to be cleared for more than bullpen sessions, so by bringing him back as a reliever the Blue Jays would lessen the time needed to build up arm strength and perhaps keep him healthier with a limited workload.
Toss in Morrow’s mid-90s fastball and career-long control problems and transitioning to the bullpen could make a lot of sense, but at this point it’s tough to predict what type of pitcher he’ll return as since he hasn’t been healthy and effective in so long.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.