It’s a good thing the bullpen was well-rested coming out of the break, because they were forced to cover 4.1 innings at Wrigley Field last night, after Kyle Hendricks exited early against the Cardinals – and they still have 11 games to play over the next 10 days. Fun!
At least the Cubs picked up some reliever depth in trade last night, but it’s still gonna sting being without their closer.
That’s because the bad news dropped before yesterday’s game: Brandon Morrow hit the 10-day disabled list (backdated to July 16) with biceps inflammation. Apparently Morrow has been feel the discomfort for a while, and his arm failed to “bounce back” quickly after his last two outings. In fact, according to Jesse Rogers, Morrow asked for the first two days off in San Francisco – the series before the series before the break – but still still felt pain into the final series of the first half, eventually experiencing a drop in velocity on Sunday, and ultimately leading to the DL.
And yet, neither Morrow nor the Cubs seem to be particularly concerned with the injury, but I can’t say I’m doing my best cucumber impression right now. Not after tweets like this:
Brandon Morrow had an MRI on his forearm / biceps today . He said there was “stuff in there “ but nothing that needed a long term shutdown .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) July 20, 2018
“Stuff in there” is a wonderful phrase when paired with a donut or a Hostess cupcake, but it’s not what you want to hear after a pitcher gets an MRI on his arm. It lets your mind wander into a thousand different directions, but for what it’s worth, Joe Maddon doesn’t expect him to miss much time, Brandon Morrow doesn’t expect to be out long. Maybe the “stuff” was just the inflammation.
Ideally, this quote from Maddon – “We thought it was the right time to back off for the latter part of the season” – is more telling than anything, and this is just the Cubs being extremely cautious with someone who’ll be crucial to their postseason plans.[Brett: In full fairness, we do have to add that, at this time of year, with trade talks ongoing and the deadline approaching, the Cubs would be particularly incentivized to be publicly optimistic about Morrow’s injury. That’s not to say they aren’t also correct! It’s just that, well, they’re not going to be out there sounding the alarms about their closer less than two weeks before the Trade Deadline unless it was obvious to everyone already (i.e., surgery) that he was completely broken. There’s no need right now to be anything publicly other than positive about a swift return.]
Here’s Morrow discussing his injury, what led up to it, how he’s feeling, the plan going forward, and much more after last night’s game:
Aside from the relatively reassuring nature of his comments, the big takeaways from this are that 1) his rehab process will be exclusively about rest (i.e. no surgery or anything worse is expected, 2) he’ll be re-evaluated on Sunday “when the doctor comes in,” and 3) he’s never experienced this particular injury in this spot before. “Yeah, this is a new one, but [it’s] manageable.”
Morrow was on the disabled list earlier this season (lower back tightness), but has otherwise been an absolute stud for the Cubs this season, completing 22 of 24 saves, and doing it as quickly and stresslessly as possible.
The front office was already searching for some back-end-ish relief help, but with a second DL stint on the books for Morrow already, you can bet they’re looking harder now.
Morrow is eligible to come off the disabled list for the final game of the Arizona Diamondbacks series at Wrigley Field. Whether that’s realistic or not is probably unknown to everyone at this point. It’s just going to depend on how he feels in the coming days.