Having not pitched for the Cubs since July, and not expected to return to the mound until after the first month of the coming season, it’s really hard to think of Brandon Morrow as much more than a really high-payout lottery ticket right now. It’s a bummer that it came to that just four months into his contract, but this was the risk the Cubs very much knew they were taking with a guy who has been through the grinder of injuries throughout his career.
Dude can SLING it when he’s healthy, but health has always been a problem. Thus, really nice lottery ticket.
How likely is that ticket to pay out this year? Well, I’m not sure anyone can say for sure at this point, but Morrow’s recovery from November elbow surgery is going well, and he’s still on the modified schedule that should have him throwing in a couple weeks. The build-up from there takes a few months, so we’d be looking at an early-May debut for Morrow. Again, if he were healthy and productive from there, you’d be thrilled to get five good months and some bullets saved for the postseason.
With all that as background, Sahadev Sharma caught up with Morrow about his career, about the season he was having and the injury that derailed it:
Chatted with Brandon Morrow at the Cubs complex today about why his surgery didn't happen until November, how his rehab is going and his thoughts on the Cubs yet to add any impact talent to the bullpen https://t.co/FPIsM8vfzH
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) January 23, 2019
As you read, you’ll observe that things are going really well right now, and that’s legitimately encouraging. But you may also feel the same pinch in the pit of your stomach that I did, thinking about how it was only after Morrow still wasn’t feeling quite right after months of recovering from the stress reaction that doctors did a CT and discovered the slight malformation in his elbow that was causing the additional pain. Are things like that missed routinely? How many other issues linger along Morrow’s kinetic chain?
The margins between a successful big league pitcher and a guy who can just throw well are razor thin, and this kind of malformation in an elbow can be so tiny as to be almost undetectable. I’m very glad Morrow had a procedure that theoretically improved his arm health, and I’m even more glad that the recovery process is going to plan. But reading about the particulars of his latest injury and surgery, you can’t help but feel reminded about how perilous this all is, especially for a 34-year-old with an extensive injury history who throws 97 mph.
Going into this season with a plan and expectation that you will absolutely have a healthy and productive Brandon Morrow at the back of the bullpen from May through October is the kind of thing smart, successful, financially-capable organizations do not do. Hopefully the Cubs are still hard at work in their contingency planning.