Brandon Morrow
Brandon Morrow
34-Year-Old PitcherRP
Chicago Cubs
Out
Injury Elbow
Est. Return 4/1/2019
2019 Fantasy Outlook
On the strength of his brilliant run with the Dodgers, Morrow landed a two-year contract with the Cubs last offseason. The team anointed him the closer before camp even began, and Morrow rewarded the organization's faith with excellent ratios and 22 successful save conversions in 24 chances over the first half of the year. Unfortunately, injuries, as they often have throughout his career, derailed what was shaping up to be a great season. Morrow said initially that he didn't expect a long-term absence due to the biceps inflammation, but the issue only worsened during his attempts to ramp back up. The skills weren't actually as good as the surface numbers would suggest during his time on the field (25.4% K%, 7.4% BB%, 93% LOB%), and of course a player with his history of arm trouble carries a higher risk of re-injury. The Cubs are probably hoping a healthy Morrow reclaims the closer job this spring, but don't bank significant resources on it. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a two-year, $21 million contract with the Cubs in December of 2017.
Status for Opening Day in question
PChicago Cubs
Arm
December 6, 2018
Morrow (arm) underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Nov. 6 and may not be available for Opening Day, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
The procedure was deemed a cleanup, and Morrow is hoping to start throwing around the beginning of February. Given that timeframe, however, the right-hander is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season. Morrow appeared in just 35 games for the Cubs in 2018 thanks to back and arm injuries. When healthy, the 34-year-old converted 22 of his 24 saves while posting a 1.47 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 31:9 K:BB across 30.2 innings. If Morrow is ultimately sidelined to open the 2019 campaign, Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek and Carl Edwards are among the options to temporarily fill in as the team's closer.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
 
 
-34%
BAA vs LHP
2018
 
 
-44%
BAA vs LHP
2017
 
 
-46%
BAA vs LHP
2016
 
 
-6%
BAA vs RHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .168 143 37 11 22 0 0 3
Since 2016vs Right .256 217 52 10 52 4 1 1
2018vs Left .151 58 15 5 8 0 0 1
2018vs Right .271 64 16 4 16 1 0 1
2017vs Left .125 60 19 4 7 0 0 0
2017vs Right .231 110 31 5 24 3 0 0
2016vs Left .318 25 3 2 7 0 0 2
2016vs Right .300 43 5 1 12 0 1 0
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
 
 
-24%
ERA at Home
2018
 
 
-24%
ERA on Road
2017
 
 
-36%
ERA at Home
2016
 
 
-46%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2016Home 1.55 0.91 46.1 3 0 13 8.2 2.1 0.6
Since 2016Away 2.05 1.20 43.0 4 0 11 9.6 2.0 0.2
2018Home 1.65 0.86 16.1 0 0 12 8.8 2.8 1.1
2018Away 1.26 1.33 14.1 0 0 10 9.4 2.5 0.0
2017Home 1.61 0.85 22.1 2 0 1 8.5 1.6 0.0
2017Away 2.53 0.98 21.1 4 0 1 12.2 2.1 0.0
2016Home 1.17 1.17 7.2 1 0 0 5.9 2.3 1.2
2016Away 2.16 1.56 8.1 0 0 0 3.2 1.1 1.1
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Stat Review
How does Brandon Morrow compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
K/BB
3.44
 
K/9
9.1
 
BB/9
2.6
 
HR/9
0.6
 
Fastball
97.5 mph
 
ERA
1.47
 
WHIP
1.08
 
BABIP
.284
 
GB/FB
2.26
 
Strand %
90.3%
 
Advanced Pitching Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Stats Vs Today's Lineup
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Brandon Morrow
Mound Musings: The 2018 Season Pitching Awards Issue
September 20th
Brad Johnson offers up his season-ending awards, good and bad, including the Biggest (Pleasant) Surprise trophy, which goes to Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell.
Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Managing Postseason Injuries
September 17th
Jeff Stotts looks at a few players whose health status is currently in limbo, including Boston’s Mookie Betts who has what is being described as a “side” injury.
NL FAAB Factor: Waiver Pickups of the Week
September 16th
Jan Levine reminds fantasy waiver wire pickers to snag the surging David Dahl, who's teasing 2019 sleeper value in the closing weeks of 2018.
Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Jansen's Ready to Close Again
September 10th
Jeff Stotts expects closer Kenley Jansen, who has missed time with a heart arrhythmia, will be back with the Dodgers for their series against Cincinnati.
Mound Musings: See You in September
August 30th
Brad Johnson helps navigate this tricky time of year by highlighting pitchers who are worth keeping an eye on during the season’s final month, like Michael Wacha, who’s September outlook is a bit murky.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
Following up on his successful but modest transition to the bullpen for 18 games in 2016, Morrow exploded as a fantasy relief weapon (even as a non-closer) in his 2017 debut with the Dodgers. The former high-strikeout but injury-prone starter revived his dormant dominance, fanning 50 in 43.2 innings. His fastball velocity was boosted by 2.7 mph, and his budding cutter reached the next level. Oh, and he ditched his lethargic sinker. He thrived in peppering the strike zone, posting a 15.9 percent swinging-strike rate and 69.4 percent first-pitch strike rate -- both career bests. Morrow landed a two-year deal with the Cubs in free agency and is considered the favorite to close as of mid-December. Even if Chicago adds another back-end arm, these are skills worth buying to round out a fantasy pitching staff.
Shoulder trouble plagued Morrow throughout the first half of the 2016 campaign, which he spent trying to stretch out as a starter at Triple-A El Paso. Upon being called up by San Diego in August, Morrow shifted to the bullpen, where he returned a tidy 1.69 ERA over 16 appearances. Interestingly enough, he struggled to miss bats, carrying an 11.8 percent K% (4.5 K/9) despite a 10.3 percent swinging-strike rate, and his low ERA was supported by an extremely high LOB% (93.8 percent). In terms of stuff, Morrow still has an intriguing arsenal, boasting a fastball, cutter, slider and changeup while showing velocity in line with his previous career levels. While the FIP (4.33) doesn't support the impressive results, the surprisingly low strikeout rate appears to be a fluke. Morrow's days as a starter may be over, but at age 32, he could still have enough left in the tank to emerge as a quality bullpen piece if the permanent role change allows him to shake the injury bug.
When Morrow hit the DL with right shoulder inflammation in early May, he said he should be ready to return after the minimum 15 days. He did not end up returning for San Diego, as recurring discomfort continually set him back in his recovery. By late July, it was looking like he would end up pitching again for the big club -- Morrow had worked his way back up to Triple-A El Paso -- but he was ultimately pulled off his rehab assignment and forced to undergo an arthroscopic procedure in August. His recovery timetable was established at three-to-four months, which would theoretically put him on track for the start of spring training, but Morrow was forced to settle for a minor league deal with San Diego in the offseason. If indeed healthy, Morrow should compete for a rotation spot in spring training, but the durability concerns will likely take him off the radar in most standard mixed leagues.
Morrow was a favorite of fantasy gamers who use advanced numbers to scout talent. Back in 2010-11, Morrow had a 4.62 ERA in 326 innings, but his 3.42 FIP and incredible 27 percent strikeout rate hinted at substantial upside. The payoff came in the form of a 2.96 ERA in 2012, but what happened to the supporting skills? The strikeout rate tumbled to 21 percent, and Morrow’s biggest issue, the injury bug, remained ever-present. A strained oblique limited him to just 125 innings during the breakout season, and a rash of injury-riddled seasons have continued through 2014. The skills fade from 2012 has continued and has been accompanied by a complete implosion of his value thanks to a 5.65 ERA in just 88 innings the last two seasons. The question is whether the skills are actually gone or if it is just the constant stream of injuries. It’s not crazy to blame it on the injuries, but will they ever go away? Make Morrow show you something before investing. He'll compete for the final spot in the Padres' rotation this spring with the likes of Odrisamer Despaigne, Robbie Erlin, and Matt Wisler.
After finally breaking out in 2012, Morrow posted an ugly 5.63 ERA over 54.1 innings during his injury-shortened 2013 campaign. Injuries have marred the talented right-hander's career to this point, and his strikeouts have fallen off in a big way. Morrow posted a 10.2 K/9 in 2010, with that number dropping to 7.8 during his excellent 2012 season, then all the way down to 7.0 in 2013. While the injury and strikeout concerns remove a bit of the luster, Morrow still has the talent to be a frontline starter. He's expected to be healthy for the start of spring training, though it's anyone's guess how long he will remain that way.
Morrow finally had the breakout season that had been expected of him for years, finishing 10-7 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. A strained oblique mid-season does raise concerns about his ability to stay healthy, as he pitched only 124.2 innings in 2012. Morrow's K/9 dropped to 7.8 and his BABIP was .252, however, a better walk rate and more steady supply of groundballs might help this breakout continue into 2013.
It wasn't quite the season where Morrow finally put all the pieces together, but it was another step in the right direction. He improved his command just enough (3.5 BB/9IP) to keep his ERA (4.72) palatable despite pitching in a tough AL East en route to a career-high 203 strikeouts. His homer-prone tendencies didn't play well at home (1.500 WHIP, 6.31 ERA at home; 1.068 WHIP, 3.07 ERA on the road) and a career high in innings pitched may have taken their toll down the stretch as 13 of his 21 homers allowed came in his last 11 starts. Life in the AL East is never going to be easy but if he can improve his command another tick he could take another step forward. He'll be back as the Jays' No. 2 starter behind Ricky Romero.
Morrow finally got an extended look as a starter last season following a trade to the Jays and began to put things together (10.9 K/9IP). He was held to just eight starts in the second half as the Jays wanted to limit his workload but did show slightly improved command as the season wore on. Over his final 17 starts, Morrow went 7-3 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.224 WHIP with a 119:38 K:BB ratio in 101.1 innings. If he can improve his control a tick -- or even just maintain his improvement from the second half of 2010 -- he could take another step forward. For now, though, he'll provide excellent strikeout numbers as the Jays' No. 2 starter behind Ricky Romero.
Morrow just couldn't get off the starter-reliever merry-go-round, and another year of indecision again stunted his career. A starter in spring, Morrow was in the bullpen by Opening Day, only to lose the closer job in early May. He then spent most of the summer in the minors reinventing himself yet again. Upon returning to the Seattle rotation for four September starts, Morrow showed some of the promise that made him a first-round pick, including an eight-inning one-hitter in his final start with a career-high nine strikeouts. Morrow is still a work in progress as a starter – command is his biggest issue, and he needs to mix his pitches more effectively -- but a high-90s fastball and a quality slider still provide upside. It looks like he may finally get a chance to develop as a starter in the majors after being traded to Toronto.
It happened nearly two years later than it should have, but the Mariners finally committed to Morrow as a starting pitcher in 2008. After notching a 1.47 ERA in the bullpen and converting 10 of 12 save opportunities in place of an injured J.J. Putz, Morrow was sent to Triple-A Tacoma in August to transition to a starter. When he returned in September, he made five starts, impressing in three of those and getting rocked in two. His five homers allowed and 12 of his 18 earned runs came in those two botched starts. Morrow needs to locate more consistently and limit the walks, but he has excellent upside with a high-90's fastball and effective slider. He posted a 10.4 K/9IP overall, 9.0 as a starter. With Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard, Morrow gives the Mariners an outstanding trio atop the rotation. There is a chance that Morrow goes back to closing with J.J. Putz traded, but new general manager Jack Zduriencik suggested that's not necessarily going to happen.
With just 16 professional innings to his name - and only three above rookie ball - Morrow was a surprise choice to make the bullpen out of spring training last year. He was inconsistent throughout the season and relied almost exclusively on his mid-90's fastball at the expense of developing secondary pitches, throwing the heater on 80.1 percent of pitches. That's fine for a reliever who faces 3-5 batters a game, but if the 2006 first-round pick is to ever start as originally intended, he needs to learn how to actually pitch. To that end, the Mariners sent Morrow to the Venezuelan Winter League to prepare for a rotation spot this year. He performed well enough in Venezuela - 2.93 ERA, 29:7 K:BB, 8.52 K/9IP - but 30.2 innings across six winter ball starts isn't likely enough to stretch Morrow into a starter at this point. Don't be surprised if the Mariners end up sending him to Triple-A before handing him a rotation job. Morrow still has good upside, though he had control problems last year (66 strikeouts to 50 walks and a 7.11 BB/9).
The club's 2006 first-round draft pick, Morrow has a high-90s fastball and a mid-80s spilt-fingered fastball, making for a devastating combination. He needs to develop a consistent slider to make his four-pitch hand, which also includes a good changeup, complete. Morrow likely will start the year at High-A High Desert, but could advance quickly.
More Fantasy News
Shifted to 60-day DL
PChicago Cubs
Arm
September 19, 2018
Morrow (arm) was shifted to the 60-day disabled list Wednesday, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports.
ANALYSIS
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Shut down for season
PChicago Cubs
Biceps
September 18, 2018
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced Tuesday that Morrow (arm) will not pitch again this season, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
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Nearing return from injury
PChicago Cubs
Biceps
September 15, 2018
Morrow (biceps) expects to be activated from the disabled list within the next few days, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports.
ANALYSIS
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To throw simulated game Saturday
PChicago Cubs
Biceps
September 15, 2018
Morrow (biceps) is scheduled to throw a simulated game Saturday, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Tosses bullpen Wednesday
PChicago Cubs
Biceps
September 12, 2018
Morrow (biceps) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Wednesday and is expected to partake in a simulated game this weekend, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
ANALYSIS
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