I’m not entirely sure why I’ve felt this way, but when Brandon Morrow hit the disabled list just after the All-Star break, I wasn’t particularly concerned. Time on the DL was always an expectation for Morrow (that’s generally the risk he carries) and Pedro Strop had done just fine in his place.
Moreover, at the time, the Cubs had also just gotten Carl Edwards Jr. back from a DL stint of his own, and were on the doorstep of picking up Jesse Chavez from the Rangers. So with the general success of the bullpen, the time before the playoffs and with Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish mounting comebacks of their own, the Morrow problem just didn’t weigh heavily on my mind. Hm. I guess I know exactly why I felt this way. But things are different now.
Darvish’s season is over, Bryant should be back as soon as this weekend, and the postseason is just a little over a month away. Suddenly … I’m starting to think more and more about Morrow’s continued absence. How soon can we actually expect to see him? How’s the progress going on his long rehab from biceps inflammation and a stress reaction in his elbow?
Well, according to Bruce Levine, Morrow has had two good sessions of “long flat ground throwing,” but hasn’t yet gotten on the mound since throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session on Saturday, August 18th. He is apparently planning for that soon though, and a return to the Majors could follow after that.
But we still might be looking at two or three more weeks of no Morrow:
The hope is for #Cubs closer Brandon Morrow (biceps) to return in mid-September, pitching coach Jim Hickey says.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) August 29, 2018
Of course, even that comes with a caveat.
Sure, Morrow could return as soon as mid-September, giving him a couple weeks to get into shape before the postseason, where the Cubs will desperately need him to not only be healthy, but also on top of his game, but that may be due to the fact that the majority of Minor League seasons end a few days into September. In other words, he wouldn’t even get the opportunity to enjoy a Minor League rehab assignment, despite not pitching competitively since July 15th. That’s not exactly ideal.
And as it turns out, it’s not flying past Joe Maddon either. When asked if Morrow would be immediately thrust into the closer’s role upon returning, Maddon told Cubs.com, “No. That would be a bad assumption from me. You have to build him back into that role and find out where he’s at. Even if you want to use him in the ninth inning, I can’t imaging a back-to-back nights kind of thing. You would think that by the end of [September], that you can do something like that, but I don’t think you throw him into that.”
So then, the news today is lukewarm, at best. The good news is that Morrow has had not one, but two good throwing sessions lately, is working his way towards a bullpen session, and is targeting the middle of September for a return. The bad news is that return will have to happen without the benefit of a Minor League rehab assignment, and he may not even be his usual self until the end of September.
We’re starting to cut things very close, as far as the postseason goes, but all things considered … at least there’s reason for guarded hope. That’s something, right?