Morrow and Hope
8 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts. Just a dominating performance that shows the kind of talent this kid has. This is the kind of game that makes you say “man, he’s on the verge of really being something.”
Oh, sorry, you think I’m talking about Brandon Morrow last night? Actually, I was describing Chad Gaudin’s performance against the Texas Rangers on June 28th. Gaudin put up the exact same line as Morrow did last night, only he did it in Texas instead of in Safeco, and against a team that can hit instead of a collection of no power slap hitters.
I know its tempting to look at Morrow’s performance and say “yep, he can be that kind of pitcher”. But in reality, he’s not that different from guys like Gaudin, who have knockout stuff but significant limitations as well.
Gaudin has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen because he can’t get left-handed hitters out. Morrow’s got a massive platoon split as well. Gaudin has problems working deep into ballgames because he throws so many pitches, in large part due to his command problems. Ditto for Morrow. Gaudin has always been a guy who pitched below his talent level. That describes Morrow’s major league career as well.
Obviously, they’re not exactly the same pitcher. Morrow’s fastball is 5+ MPH faster, which earns him quite a bit more benefit of the doubt. We always look at guys with the kind of stuff that Morrow possesses and dream about what they can become if they figure it out. Problem is, they rarely do. Much more frequently, they carve out a career like Gaudin. Or Jonathan Sanchez, Oliver Perez, or Jorge de la Rosa.
They succeed, to an extent, in spite of their command problems. But they’re rarely as good as you think they should be. Every once in a while, they give you a glimmer of hope, a night where everything works and they look like the ace you always wanted them to become. But, with few exceptions, they turn out to be significantly less than the sum of their parts.
It’s tempting to look at Brandon Morrow’s performance last night and say “he’s ready to be the #2 starter behind Felix”. But more likely, it’s just a tease. It’s the glimpse of potential that is so often followed by a soul crushing return to normalcy.
We can dream about what Brandon Morrow might become, but if we want to see a more likely outcome, take a look at Chad Gaudin. Without some significant sustainable improvements in his command, you’re always going to wish for more.