Colorado Rockies: What Brandon Morrow could bring to the bullpen
By Kevin Henry
At this moment, questions surround the bullpen for the Colorado Rockies. The return of relievers Jake McGee, Pat Neshek and Greg Holland is up in the air and, according to which media report you read, unlikely in all three cases. Three key members of a Colorado bullpen that turned things around dramatically in the late innings last season could be in different uniforms when the 2018 season debuts. That means the Rockies are likely going to need to retool and rebuild the back end.
We talked in this article about who might join Chris Rusin in the 2018 Rockies bullpen. While the cupboard is by no means bare, there is certainly still some work to be done to strengthen the Colorado relieving corps.
One of the more interesting names floated out there recently who could join the Rockies is Brandon Morrow, who saw action in 14 (yes, 14) postseason games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. The 33-year-old right-hander has been predicted to sign with the Rockies by MLBTradeRumors.com for a three-year, $18 million contract. However, the Chicago Cubs and other teams have been linked to Morrow as well as the Hot Stove continues to heat up.
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So what could Morrow bring to Colorado? His presence could be a stabilizing force in the late innings. Last season as part of a stacked Dodgers bullpen, he led all National League relievers in opponent slugging percentage (.210) and opponent OPS (.445). Opponents hit just .194 against him, including a .125 average for those hitting from the left side of the plate. He also kept opponents from scoring in 37 of his 45 relief appearances. Not bad for a guy who was signed by the Dodgers on a minor league contract in January and didn’t get called up until May 29.
Morrow struck out 50 batters in 43.2 innings last season, relying on a fastball that averaged more than 97 miles per hour. Throughout his career that began with the Seattle Mariners in 2007, he has struck out more batters (846) than he has logged inning pitched (828.1). However, he is not viewed as a closer. In fact, of the 299 games in which he has played in his career, he has started 113. However, he has not started in his last 63 games stretching back over the last two campaigns.
Wherever he lands next season, he will bring with him a history of injuries, including shoulder surgery when he was with the San Diego Padres in 2015. However, there is a lot to like about the former fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft. The velocity and talent is there, as well as plenty of postseason experience after his 2017 run with the Dodgers.
So where could he fit in with the Rockies? Perfect world, picture him as someone who could be a set-up man/eighth-inning specialist to turn the ball over to whoever would close for Colorado in 2018. It is a similar role to what Neshek held for the Rockies last season. Also, with his dominance against left-handed batters, it sets up well for a specialist role as well if Bud Black would choose to not go with a designated inning role.
Next: If the Rockies traded Charlie Blackmon to the Cardinals...
One other statistic to note for Morrow, opponents hit just .114 against him last season when there were two outs. He can finish an inning and that is something the Rockies have often badly needed in recent history.