Brandon Morrow signed a 1-year contract with the San Diego Padres. He gets $2.5 million guaranteed, with different incentive deals, if he starts he can earn an extra $5 million and if he relieves he can get an extra $1 million.
I always figured that, one day, we'd get to see a no-hitter from Brandon. He came so close, August 8, 2010. He had the no-hitter through 8.2 innings, then Evan Longoria hit a ground ball just a little too far to Aaron Hill's left. He finished the game with a 1-hitter, 2 walks and 17 strikeouts, in 137 pitches. That might just be the best pitching performance I've ever seen. It really is too bad for us all that he didn't get that last out.
We never got that no-hitter. He had some other good starts. 3 complete game shutouts in 2012, a 2-hit and a pair of 3-hitters.
He had one very good season with us, putting up a 2.96 ERA in 21 starts in 2012.Unfortunately he missed a couple of months with an oblique strain, after leaving his June 11 start in the first inning. That was a bad week, Kyle Drabek left his start on the 13th and Drew Hutchison left left his start on the 15th, both ending up needing Tommy John surgery.(yes, yes, I was at the games, shut up).
Brandon seemed to have a good rapport with former pitching coach Bruce Walton. I asked Walton about Morrow before the 2012 season:
What does Brandon Morrow have to do to be 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.
Brandon would go on to have his best season with the Jays, in 2012. I do sometimes wonder if Brandon would have had a better time of it if Walton had stayed with the team.
The last two seasons have been a mess of injuries and bad starts. The injuries, for the most part, seemed to have been of the freak type. A 'entrapped radial nerve' cost him most of 2013. I had never heard of that injury before. This past season it was a 'torn tendon sheath', another injury that is pretty unusual. It was good to see him come back and throw so well out of the bullpen.
I really was hoping that the Jays could talk him into re-signing with them, the same sort of contract would have worked for me. A guy that can throw 100 mph is handy to have in the bullpen, but if he looked good in a starting role through spring training, Sanchez could take the job of the hard throwing right-hander in the pen.
I'm sorry to see him leave, he has been one of my favorites to watch, since becoming a Blue Jay, in that rather inspired trade with the Mariners. I'm a sucker for guys that can throw hard and could have that great game at any time. I enjoyed watching him work at his craft, especially those first three seasons with the team. Watching young players improve is one of my favorite parts. I always prefer to cheer for the guys with a ton of potential and hope they figure it out. It's too bad that the potential never quite came to the top for us.
And Brandon seemed like a good guy. You'd hear stories of him visiting kids in hospitals, and yet he didn't have to make a big deal out of it each time. And he was always a good interview. He also seemed to be a good, if fairly quiet teammate.
I hope things go well for Brandon, he really does deserve some good luck.