Why Brandon Morrow is Done for the Season, and Where Things Go From Here

Yesterday, it hit me like a ton of bricks: Brandon Morrow’s season is over. Part of me wanted to laugh, part of me cry. And I was definitely a little angry. I don’t blame anybody, of course, but it feels like the tenth time this season we’ve watched a critical, injured Cubs player find himself on the doorstep of a return … just as the floor drops out beneath him.

It sucks. It’s a fan thing.

If you recall, Brandon Morrow’s last pitch was thrown in the first-half of the season. After that, a myriad of injuries to his throwing arm (biceps, bone bruise, stress reaction in his elbow) kept him on the disabled list and our hopes relatively low. But as a late-season, pre-playoffs return was teased, we rejoiced.

And why not? The rehab was finally going well and at just the right time. Not only had Morrow made it through two bullpen sessions and a simulated game, he was going to return just as his replacement, Pedro Strop, hit the disabled list, himself. Perfect, right?

Well, no. Not perfect. Groin punch:

So what happened? How did we go from “He might return before the end of the Diamondbacks series!” to “He’s done.”? Well, according to Morrow (via Cubs.com), he did feel OK during the simulated game. However, he “probably got a little overconfident with it …. The next morning was when I knew things were going in the wrong way. I woke up feeling the same as I was a couple months ago. Yesterday was tough. It sucks.”

Theo Epstein added a little more context, stating that although they were legitimately hopeful, “every time he pitched, it got worse.” It was apparently really bad for Morrow behind the scenes:

Pretty reminiscent of Yu Darvish’s private experience with a stress reaction all season, eh? For what it’s worth, Darvish ultimately had a cleanup procedure in his elbow recently.

From the sound of things, Morrow saw another specialist yesterday just before the plug was pulled, which, again … just so much more painful, given how soon we expected him back. And although it certainly doesn’t make me feel any better, I’ll point out that he is, indeed, expected to be ready for Spring Training 2019.

As for the implication of not having an elite reliever available in the postseason, well, I’m not going to lie to you: this is pretty bad.

Perhaps, with Strop still around and the bullpen firing on all cylinders, the Cubs could’ve skated into the postseason and navigated around the non-closing, high-leverage innings like a tightrope walker in a thunderstorm, but without even Strop in there to eliminate some concern, things are so much tighter. So I guess here’s hoping – desperately – that his optimism about a return before the end of the regular season is well-founded.

The Cubs will also need Carl Edwards Jr. to find the strike zone, because he has seven walks in his last 4.0 IP and he’s essentially, now, the most dominant arm in the pen *when he’s on.* Until that happens, though, the Cubs will continue to lean on Jesse Chavez, Steve Cishek, and Justin Wilson as their primary “big-moment” arms.

From a roster perspective, the Cubs could now place Morrow on the 60-day disabled list and add another reliever – like Allen Webster, perhaps? – if they wanted.

From a longer-term roster perspective, although Morrow is expected back at full strength for Spring Training, it’s going to be very difficult for the front office to pass up a very, very full crop of interesting, high-end relief arms this offseason. At a minimum, maybe it means bringing Justin Wilson back. Or maybe it means going after a guy like Andrew Miller or Zach Britton – elite, elite guys who have dealt with injuries that may depress their market a bit.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

more cubs news

Reps, Reps, Reps for Morel, Marquee Poach, Kilian Talk, Urshela, Woodruff, See-Through Pants, and Other Cubs Bullets

Today is the day. Cubs baseball is back. The fake version anyway, and I'll gladly take it. I've still got that nagging feeling that the offseason isn't over yet, and I really hate that it's bleeding now into game play,...

Cubs Baseball is Back

I know all the other things. It's not a "real" game. Cody Bellinger still isn't back. The Cubs may not have done enough to be competitive this year. But I still can't help myself. When I open up my At...

Spring Training Miscellany: Outfield Prospects Showing Out in Live BP, Games Get Underway

A handful of fun things to share from around Spring Training today, on the eve of the Cubs' first Cactus League game tomorrow ... Alexander Canario, vying for AT LEAST the fourth outfielder job - until and unless there's a...

MLB Network Airing a Special on Game 7 of the 2016 World Series with Joe Maddon and Terry Francona

Tonight, MLB Network will be airing a special on Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, aka, the night It Happened, aka, the Greatest Game in Baseball History. The special comes complete with managers Terry Francona and Joe Maddon discussing...

Obsessive Cody Bellinger Watch: Are the Cubs Actually Alone? How Patient Can Everyone Be? More

This week, in addition to being about his looming, absent presence at Cubs Spring Training, has been all about reporters and pundits wondering what the market is going to be for Cody Bellinger. Some of that has taken on the...

Leadoff and DH, Imanaga and Wisdom, Palencia Velo, Little and Development, and Other Cubs Bullets

The Cubs play a game tomorrow. Not a real game, but a game. It feels like it has come so quickly, which is assuredly because the offseason still feels like it isn't over. I've said it before, but I really...

Shoulder Injury is Going to Shut Down Kodai Senga for a While

Although there were some arm concerns coming into his transition to MLB last year, Japanese righty Kodai Senga was by and large healthy (and dominant) for the New York Mets in 2023. Unfortunately, that won't be the case in 2024....

Tim Anderson Finally Finds a Home, Signing with the Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins have seemingly filled their open shortstop job, and it's with the best remaining shortstop on the free agent market. Of course, in this market, the best remaining guy is someone on whom you have to bet there...

Mitch Keller Signing Five-Year Extension with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Although the Pittsburgh Pirates have hardly been the model franchise over the past couple decades, one thing they've generally managed to pull off with some frequency is extending their young players either pre-arbitration or early in arbitration. They did it...

More from the Shota-Seiya Matchup, With Jokes, Nasty Stuff, and an Early Win

A story can be only so big at Spring Training - shy of Cody Bellinger strolling onto the practice field - but yesterday's big one was newly-signed lefty Shota Imanaga facing, among others, Seiya Suzuki in live batting practice. More...

Latest News

Best NBA Prop Bets Today – February 23, 2024

Today's NBA schedule has 10 exciting matchups in store. Among those games is the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves.NBA prop bets for today's games are available, so if you're interested in placing a bet or building a parlay,...

How to Watch Stanford Cardinal vs. Oregon State Beavers: Live Stream or on TV

The Stanford Cardinal (12-14, 7-9 Pac-12) will look to halt a three-game losing streak when they host the Oregon State Beavers (11-16, 3-13 Pac-12) on February 24, 2024. The Beavers have lost seven games in a row.Stanford dropped its most...

Utah Valley vs. SFA: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (14-12, 7-8 WAC) will try to break a three-game losing streak when they hit the road to take on the Utah Valley Wolverines (13-14, 8-8 WAC) on February 24, 2024 at UCCU Center.Utah Valley won...

How to Watch Arizona Wildcats vs. Washington Huskies: Live Stream or on TV

The No. 4 Arizona Wildcats (20-6, 11-4 Pac-12) host the Washington Huskies (15-12, 7-9 Pac-12) in Pac-12 action at McKale Center, tipping off at 2:00 PM ET on Saturday, February 24, 2024.In its most recent game, Arizona lost to Washington...

How to Watch Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Santa Clara Broncos: Live Stream or on TV

The Gonzaga Bulldogs (21-6, 11-2 WCC) bring a five-game win streak into a home matchup with the Santa Clara Broncos (18-10, 9-4 WCC), winners of three straight.In its most recent game, Gonzaga defeated Portland on Thursday, 86-65. Its top scorer...

Seattle U vs. UT Rio Grande Valley: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

The UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (6-20, 2-13 WAC) will try to break a seven-game road slide when they take on the Seattle U Redhawks (17-10, 10-6 WAC) on February 24, 2024 at Redhawk Center.Seattle U was victorious in its...

Hawaii vs. Long Beach State: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

The Long Beach State Beach (18-9, 10-5 Big West) will try to build on a five-game win streak when they hit the road to take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (15-12, 7-8 Big West) on February 24, 2024 at Stan...

Stony Brook vs. William & Mary: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

The Stony Brook Seawolves (15-13, 8-7 CAA) aim to build on a five-game home win streak when they host the William & Mary Tribe (8-20, 3-12 CAA) on February 24, 2024.Stony Brook won its most recent game versus N.C. A&T,...

UCSD vs. UC Irvine: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

The UCSD Tritons (18-9, 12-3 Big West) will host the UC Irvine Anteaters (20-7, 13-2 Big West) after winning eight home games in a row.On Thursday, in its last game, UCSD defeated UC Riverside 77-65. With 20 points, Aniwaniwa Tait-jones...

Arizona State vs. Washington State: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

The Washington State Cougars (21-6, 12-4 Pac-12) will attempt to extend a five-game road win streak when they visit the Arizona State Sun Devils (13-14, 7-9 Pac-12) on February 24, 2024 at Desert Financial Arena.Arizona State lost its previous game...

more cubs news