The Bad of the Good
Mike Hargrove needed a win last night as he fights to quell the growing calls for his job. The team needed a win last night to keep the losing streak from becoming a repeat of the 2006 debacle. So, facing a bases loaded, one-out situation in a tie game, Brandon Morrow gave both Hargrove and his teammates a huge lift. His strikeouts of Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz took the game out of the Rangers hands. As he threw 97 MPH gas past one of the leagues hottest hitters, everyone in Seattle saw why the M’s decided to bring him north with the team out of spring training.
Those were the best pitches of Brandon Morrow’s young career. They may also have been the worst possible outcome for Brandon Morrow, Starting Pitcher. Last night’s performance was eerily similar to this game, which I have a vivid memory of. Derek and I were at this game, watching from his seats on the rail of the 300 level, when Rafael Soriano made his major league debut. Soriano then proceeded to blow away Red Sox hitters for three innings with little more than a 97 MPH four seam fastball. He looked unhittable coming out of the pen.
That was an image the Mariners never forgot – the unhittable reliever, Rafael Soriano. Despite significant success in the minors as a starting pitcher, Rafael Soriano was given 8 starts later that year, and after failing to repeat the dominance he showed in that initial relief appearance, he was then shifted back to the bullpen for the 2003 season. He never made another start for the Mariners.
Brandon Morrow made an impression last night. The people in the organization won’t soon forget the kid throwing 97 MPH fastballs right past Ian Kinsler. That impression isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Brandon Morrow’s success last night just bought himself a very short leash if he ever is moved back into the rotation in the future. The M’s have a strong bias towards shifting power arms to the bullpen and putting finesse pitchers in the rotation to begin with, and Morrow’s performance will simply enhance their belief that his stuff is going to be best suited to relief work.
Last night was a win for the Mariners in the short term, but it very well could have been a huge blow to Brandon Morrow’s career as a starting pitcher. If he never gets a real chance to pitch in the rotation again, you can point to last night as one of the primary reasons why.