Brandon Morrow has always been one of my favorites. To me, one of the best things about watching baseball is seeing players improve in front of your eyes.
When Morrow came to the Jays he was a mess, he could throw hard but that was about it. I remember people telling me he would never make it as a starting pitcher. One former member in particular kept telling us that 'he looked at it like a scout would' and 'there was no way Morrow would ever have any value'. But really, he was looking at it like a fan and couldn't see how close he was to being something great.
I think we can point at Morrow as a success for former pitching coach Bruce Walton. Last off-season I asked Walton what Morrow had to do to become more consistent?
Brandon, it's my second year with Brandon. His first year we went through some walk issues, base on balls, command issues. We pretty much ironed it out. We got to the point where now we left a lot of balls in the middle of the plate. So we went from one extreme to the other extreme and we gave up a lot of home runs last year. He's a fly ball pitcher at times, he doesn't get a whole lot of ground balls, so when the ball sits in the middle of the plate belt high and they get a piece of it, it goes. So now it is just staying down in the zone consistently. I think for Brandon to be consistent, his pitches have to be down consistent. We have to plan the effort level to pitch at consistently. Consistency is what we have to work on in every aspect. Keeping the ball down, keeping our emotions in check. Keeping our work effort at a certain level, consistently. All those will come. This is the year for that to come. There's steps to becoming a major league starting pitcher. The first step was that we needed to throw strikes. We accomplished that. It took us a year and a half. Our next step is to manage the game a little bit better and manage our emotions a little bit better and manage our season a little bit better and become more consistent. That's where we are at.
That seems to be a pretty perfect explanation of what went on with Morrow.
Other than the injury, Morrow had the sort of season we were all hoping he'd have. The question is, can he do it again?
His strikeout rate dropped, but then his BABIP also dropped, from .299 in 2011 to 2012 in 2012. And he walked fewer.
Bill James sees him going 11-9, in 30 starts, with a 3.47 ERA and 181 innings.
I'd like to think our offense will be strong enough to get him more than 11 wins, if he has a ERA in the mid 3's. Beyond that I think Bill is pretty close, though I have thoughts that, if he were to follow R.A. Dickey in the rotation, he could be unhittable. Can you imagine facing those two, back-to-back? Better yet, can you imagine catching those two back-to-back? I'm glad Dickey will have a personal catcher
Let's say 3.30, 14-8, 30 starts, 190 innings. Please no injuries. I'd love to see him get that no-hitter he came so close to, back in 2010.