How has the strikeout master Brandon Morrow redefined himself following a frustrating season of inconsistency?
He looked objectively at his innings from 2011, and made a commitment to become a more complete pitcher. Morrow had been hearing for years that he’d find more success by trying to get quicker at-bats, get more ground balls so he could pitch deeper into games but it wasn’t until this winter that it finally sunk in. Given the fact that Morrow only had one double-play turned behind him in 179 innings of work last year, his off-season work has already proved fruitful with more than 6 DPs in 41 innings of work. This is a huge part of the evolution of Brandon Morrow – using his pitches to allow his defence to get some outs. Pitching to contact and allowing the dynamite defence behind him to get the outs is the most important aspect of his improvement.
When the Seattle Mariners dealt Morrow to the Blue Jays two and a half years ago there was no question of his potential. The Mariners were frustrated with his volatility and gross inconsistency; there were games where Seattle thought Brandon was their closer, frontline ace, and a wasted first round draft pick. While there should never have been any question of the stuff that Morrow throws, his inability to make hitters chase off-speed pitches and his frequent high pitch counts did not let Morrow see many games after the 6th inning. It is imperative that ace-type pitchers enter every game with the intent to finish all 9 innings. You can see this mentality when you watched Roy Halladay on the mound, and now Ricky Romero – Brandon Morrow version 2.0 has the ability to finish out games.
Throwing gas is something that Brandon Morrow has always had in spades. The ability to reach back and put a little extra into his 2-seam fastball is a tool that Brandon will always possess; the trouble has been too many walks. Morrow has found himself in many full count situations, while trying to throw through the batter. Morrow’s career walks per 9 innings is just north of 4.0; and so far this year his BB/9 is a sparkling 1.7. This is another major reason for Morrow lasting 6.8 innings per start over his first 7 games of the 2012 season. Any pitcher that does not inherently pitch to contact will struggle having to throw from the stretch constantly due to issuing the free pass. The success of Morrow will rely heavily upon his ability to keep
There will be games this season where Morrow fails to pitch like he did on May 4th in Anaheim, and those games may occur when his strikeouts rack up. This is completely acceptable. As we should understand, an evolution is a process, a transition. There is no switch or option box to check for Morrow. He will have to improve, grow, and mature into the new and improved pitcher that he is becoming. The evolution of Brandon Morrow will be something that Blue Jays fans and all baseball fans will get to admire for the next couple seasons.
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