Brandon Morrow was the definition of “sparkle and fade” during his time with the Cubs, starting the first half of 2018 as a dominant closer before a string of injuries prevented him from ever pitching again. He had hoped baseball’s shutdown would allow him to finally get healthy again, but he wasn’t named to the 60-man roster and news dropped Wednesday that the Cubs had released him.
Sources: The Cubs are releasing RHP Brandon Morrow.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) July 8, 2020
Jon Heyman reported that Morrow had just undergone a minor nerve surgery, at least the fourth procedure he’s undergone since the end of the 2018 season, and that he would not be able to recover in time for this 60-game season.
Brandon Morrow had a minor nerve procedure and would take a bit of time to ramp up so with a 60-game season it made sense for the Cubs to release him, as they have done. Morrow is only on pause and does intend to pitch next year. @ByRobertMurray 1st
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 8, 2020
Though his unsteady health prevented the Cubs from picking up his 2020 option, Morrow felt he owed the organization and signed a minor league contract with a $1 million guarantee if he made the MLB squad. That obviously won’t happen at this point and it’s a disappointing ending to what almost everyone hoped would be a great comeback story.
Morrow’s time as a Cub included a bizarre series of injuries, starting when he hurt his back taking his pants off in June of 2018. Then an undiagnosed stress reaction in his pitching elbow, a similar injury to the one that dogged Yu Darvish, ended his 2018 season at the All-Star break and eventually required offseason cleanup surgery. The same elbow flared up in April 2019 and required an injection of synthetic lubricant normally given to patients with arthritic knees.
He then underwent a hydrodissection procedure to alleviate pressure on a nerve in his pitching elbow in August 2019. Back in camp with the Cubs and throwing again this spring, Morrow suffered an upper chest strain and was shut down briefly. Then, on his first day getting back to baseball activities, he hurt his calf while running.
Morrow was rarely healthy during his time with the Cubs, but he was lights out when he was able to to pitch. He posted a 1.47 ERA with a 9.10 K/9 over 30.2 innings of work and the confidence he brought to the mound was tangible.
I’m hoping Morrow can work his way back in 2021, whether it be with the Cubs or some other team. It must suck to work your tail off during rehab only to get struck by another weird injury or find out you’ve got to go under the knife again. Here’s to wishing Morrow can fall into some good luck. Well, maybe “fall” isn’t the best word to use.