Brandon Morrow’s rehab from last year’s stress reaction didn’t go especially smoothly, and then it was only after he was nearly back that it was discovered he needed arthroscopic surgery to clean things up. He had that procedure in November, and a normal recovery time would have had him back with the Cubs in mid-to-late April. But Morrow, 34, has had a litany of injuries in his career, so it was always expected that he wouldn’t be back until closer to May or sometime in May.
And now, after another setback, even that’s extremely unlikely:
Maddon: Morrow is in a shut-down period right now after not bouncing back well from mound session earlier this week. That slows down the closer’s comeback.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 20, 2019
Joe Maddon says the Cubs are going to "slow things down" with Brandon Morrow after the reliever felt discomfort from a recent side session. There is no timetable yet for Morrow's return to the Cubs bullpen.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) April 20, 2019
Although none of us knows for certain exactly what the shutdown will look like, it’s more or less impossible to imagine him throwing soon – even on flat ground – if he felt discomfort and was shut down. So you can start doing some estimating on a BEST case scenario, where he’s shut down for two weeks, build the arm back up with flat ground throwing for another two weeks, and then starts dipping his toe back into the mound water after that, you wouldn’t even have him heading for a minor league rehab assignment until maybe the end of May. At this point, if you’re hoping to see Morrow back in the Cubs bullpen before June, you’re dreaming.
From there, whenever it is that Morrow does return – if he does at all – there is absolutely no basis for expecting that he’ll immediately come in, after missing an entire year and having had multiple arm injuries, and pitch like a dominant closer. That should not be in anyone’s plans, from the fans to the front office. This was always the risk with Morrow – tons of talent and upside for a relatively cheap contract, but the chance that he breaks and you get almost nothing out of him.
Here’s hoping a shut-down period will help, and maybe the Cubs can get him into a position to be a useful reliever for the second half of the season. But, in the meantime, the Cubs should be weighing other options (as they should have been all offseason, since this was far from an unpredictable risk).
Will they seriously consider Craig Kimbrel now? I tend to doubt it, but it’s a conversation that should be had, especially in light of Kimbrel’s reportedly reasonable demands.