Yikes. This evening, after yet another fucking dispiriting bullpen blowup leading to a loss in Pittsburgh, the Jays announced — according to the busy Twitter fingers of several reporters, including Gregor Chisholm, whose tweet shows up first in my feed — that Brandon Morrow’s examination has revealed a torn tendon sheath in his right hand, and that he has immediately been transferred to the 60-day DL. Chisholm adds that the Jays will wait to see how the injury heals to decide their next course of action, meaning that if he doesn’t need surgery he could be back in July. But if he does, he’s done for the year.
But there’s a small silver lining to this cloud: soon afterwards Barry Davis of the Rogers-owned Rogers Sportsnet tweeted that the Rogers-owned Blue Jays will be calling up Marcus Stroman, and that, at least for the time being — and for fuck sakes, it will be a short one, so simmer down about it — he’ll be pitching out of the bullpen.
The Blue Jays, Barry Davis tweets, will announce the corresponding move tomorrow.
Fans have understandably been extremely frustrated with Brandon Morrow over the past couple of season. He’s generally pitched well when healthy, despite never living up to the expectations that come with having the kind of arm that he does, but those “when healthy” stretches have increasingly become fewer and farther between.
Thing is, despite nagging issues throughout even his healthiest of seasons, Morrow did make 77 starts over three seasons from 2010 to 2012. But the last three seasons have been a struggle when it comes to health, with a long layoff for an oblique injury (and some truly excellent pitching on either side of it) in 2012, last year’s nerve impingement, and now this. I’ll always be hesitant when it comes to calling someone injury prone, but also it’s not like all of our bodies react the exact same way to the stresses and strains of the extreme forces ballplayers generate. It’s certainly no longer unfair to wonder if there really is something about him, physically, that makes him susceptible to these issues — many will point to the fact that he has diabetes, though I personally don’t know nearly enough about it to suggest that there’s a direct link, nor do I suspect most who like to pontificate about such things do — but I still don’t think any of us armchair doctors can genuinely say that there has to be, and the fact of the matter, he’s now spent so much time not being quite right that figuring all of this out is about to be somebody else’s problem anyway.
In fact, if his attempt at rehab for the torn tendon sheath doesn’t solve the issue, and he needs to have season-ending surgery, it’s not inconceivable that Morrow has thrown his last pitch for the Blue Jays.
I hope that’s not the case, but Morrow is in the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Jays. The club holds a $10-million option for him next year (with a $1-million buyout clause), and it won’t be easy for Morrow to justify them exercising it even if he’s on the field. And it will be damn near impossible if he’s on the shelf. Plus, with Stroman and Hutchison on the verge of locking down rotation spots for the foreseeable future, and Sanchez not far behind them, time is running out for Morrow to establish himself. That he even still should need to says a whole lot, though, doesn’t it?
There’s still a great arm there, to be sure, but at this point the hope is that Stroman comes in and does what Morrow was supposed to be doing for this club. It’s a lot to ask of a kid getting his first taste of the big leagues, and he’s not going to be able to do it from the damn bullpen (but, of course, that’s only temporary — and at least helpful in keeping his innings manageable a bit for however long it lasts), but it’s not exactly the craziest hope, either.
Sure hope the Blue Jays keep Marcus Stroman in a starting role. Could be a frontline starter, and quickly.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) May 4, 2014
He’s a pitcher to be truly excited for, and as bad as I feel for Morrow, and as unfortunate as I think it would be if he isn’t able to get healthy, come back, and pitch well enough to keep a rotation spot and convince the club to pick up that option for next year, running him out there every fifth day wasn’t doing this club any good right now. And Marcus Stroman has the potential to do a lot of good right now. I certainly wouldn’t say that the Jays are better off without Morrow, but Stroman mitigates his loss tremendously, and at least temporarily gives the club an option that John Gibbons might actually be able to trust coming out of the bullpen.
I’m still not entirely sure why Neil Wagner wasn’t that guy (at least not when they had a chance to recall him today, when Morrow first hit the shelf), but this is fine, too.
No, really! It’s not an affront that Stroman isn’t being moved straight into the rotation, even if it’s strictly out of deference to the veterans in his way. It’s not crazy that they’re potentially letting him be a Super Two — he’d have to be down until late June or early July to avoid that anyway, and this year is too important and much too far from being fucked to have waited that long.
Shit, it’s not even entirely crazy that, in all these roster moves of late, guys like Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers have so far kept their jobs (not that they’re any great shakes — or, I suppose, that the season wouldn’t be fucked if it came to this — but lose those two now, then move McGowan to the bullpen, as expected, and your starting pitching and long relief depth looks something like: Sean Nolin, Liam Hendricks, Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, shoe, air horn, gum wrapper, sack). It’s easy when the team is so frustratingly pissing away games to let negativity oppressively push down on every single little thing, but all this is is pretty simple: it sucks that Morrow didn’t put it together this year and now is hurt, and it’s cool that Stroman is up and will be in the rotation shortly.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to think any more about it than that.