Dodgers: The Revival of Brandon Morrow

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 22: Brandon Morrow
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 22: Brandon Morrow /

The Dodgers’ front office is well known for finding affordable options that blossom into successful players. In 2017, the well-traveled Brandon Morrow is the perfect example of that. Morrow has pitched tremendously in high-leverage situations across the season.

When fans of Major League Baseball think of the Dodgers, they think of names like Cody Bellinger, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen. And rightfully so, those guys are usually in every major news headline for the team.

In a season full of dramatics, comeback wins and walk-off heroics, it’s easy to forget the little moments that matter. Moments like Chris Taylor taking an extra base in the third inning with some heads-up base running or Yasiel Puig cutting off a ball that could’ve gone in the gap for extra bases. Or a reliever coming in against a tough lineup to shut them out and hand the ball of the Jansen.

That last guy has been Brandon Morrow in 2017, and more than a few times. Morrow isn’t exactly well known across baseball. In fact, the only thing he is really known for in his eleven-year career was a one-hit shutout against Tampa Bay back in 2010. On that day, Morrow was with the Blue Jays. He wasn’t having the best season, and he would go on to have a very subpar season overall.

But for those nine innings in August, he gave one of the most dominant pitching performances of all time. Morrow struck out 17, walked two, and gave up just one hit in a 1-0 win against a team that was 34 games over .500.

Most fans don’t remember that game though. And most fans don’t remember Brandon Morrow, except maybe as the guy who was a consistent starter for the Jays from 2010 to 2014 and had just one impressive season during that time. He started 21 games in 2012 throwing for a 2.96 earned run average, before his ERA shot back up over five the next two years. But Morrow, with a new team and a new role, has made a name for himself.

Morrow was picked up by Los Angeles and signed to a one year deal worth $1.25 million for 2017. All he has done since then is throw 25 2/3 innings of lights out baseball. Morrow has struck out 32 batters and owns an ERA of 2.81 on the year. Perhaps most importantly, he has yet to give up a home run in his short time with the team.

Morrow also has a WHIP of 0.857, ranking near the top in the league (though he isn’t technically qualified). Morrow has managed to do this by throwing his cutter, at an average velocity of 92.2 mph, much more consistently. To give you some perspective, Jansen throws his at about 93 mph. He’s added this to an arsenal that has a fastball which can touch 100, a filthy slider, and a solid changeup.

With the type of numbers Morrow has managed to put up this season, it’s easy to see him the in the playoff bullpen. Pedro Baez has been surprisingly solid this season, but home runs have hurt him. Over 47 2/3 innings, Baez has given up six long balls, and they always seem to come at the worst times. That’s not the winning recipe for a World Series bound team.

The Dodgers will probably carry a 10-man bullpen into the playoffs, with one of the many starters likely to make a move to the pen. As of now, that shapes up to look something like this:

Luis Avilan

Pedro Baez

Tony Cingrani

Josh Fields

Kenley Jansen

Brandon Morrow

Brock Stewart

Ross Stripling

Tony Watson

Hyun Jin-Ryu or Kenta Maeda

Grant Dayton, Chris Hatcher and Brandon McCarthy are all on the 10-day disabled list as of Friday, so that could create a problem for Morrow’s playoff status.

Next: Players With Most to Prove

But the playoff rotation is almost certainly to be Kershaw, Darvish, Hill, and Wood. Despite all of this, Morrow may make it incredibly difficult for Dave Roberts to keep him out of baseball in October.