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For The Nostalgic Blue Jays Fan, Vol. 6: Brandon Morrow

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Evan Stack
18 days ago
In recent Blue Jays history, one of the biggest “what if” players is Aaron Sanchez. After an All-Star season in 2016, injuries plagued the following seasons, leaving ’16 to look like an anomaly. In my opinion, right behind him should be Brandon Morrow, a rotation piece of the early 2010s who had many unfortunate spells on the injured list.
Morrow was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2006 and was quickly expedited through their minor league system, making his MLB debut in April of 2007. The Mariners utilized him primarily as a reliever, leading to Morrow only starting 15 games during his time in Seattle. Through 131 games with the Mariners, Morrow posted a 3.96 ERA with a 9.3 K/9 and a troubling 5.8 BB/9.
During the winter of 2009, Morrow was dealt to the Blue Jays in exchange for Johermyn Chavez and Brandon League. He was promptly plugged into the starting rotation to begin the 2010 season, starting the fourth-most games and pitching the fourth-most innings for Toronto. He did, however, lead the team in strikeouts, a byproduct of his wide array of pitches. Outside of the fastball, Morrow threw a slider, changeup, curveball, and cutter. Morrow was shut down for the season in September in order to protect his arm – his 146.1 IP was by far the most he had thrown in a single season of his young career.
The undoubted highlight of Morrow’s career was an August 8, 2010 start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Morrow struck out 17 batters and didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the 9th inning. Evan Longoria broke up the no-hit bid despite an outstanding effort from Aaron Hill at second base.

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The Blue Jays only led 1-0 at the time, so it then became imperative for Morrow to protect the lead. He struck out Dan Johnson to end the game, thereby etching that outing as one of the all-time greatest single-game pitching performances in Jays’ history. What we would do to have Brandon Morrow come back and face the Rays today!
Surprisingly, the record for strikeouts in a game for a Blue Jay is 18 held by Roger Clemens, but 17 strikeouts will be a pretty safe second for a long time. Robbie Ray came pretty close to this record, punching out 14 White Sox batters on August 25, 2021.
What may be more stunning was his pitch count; Morrow threw 137 pitches that night, which is something we rarely see in today’s game.
After a fairly successful 2010, Morrow became the No. 2 starter in 2011 behind Ricky Romero. He had one of the more interesting records to his name that year, as he became the only pitcher in MLB history to pitch at least 100 innings in a season without inducing a double play ball.
In 2012, Morrow and teammate Henderson Alvarez would throw back-to-back shutouts against the Angels, becoming the first Blue Jays pitching duo to accomplish that feat since 1993. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to a left oblique strain.
That injury in 2012 became a precursor to how Morrow’s career would end up as a Blue Jay. He would only appear in 44 games between 2012 and 2014, battling injuries to his aforementioned oblique, forearm, and index finger. In 2014, he elected free agency, therefore ending his time in Toronto.
Morrow would pitch for the Padres, Dodgers, and Cubs after his stint with the Blue Jays. Morrow pitched for the Dodgers in 2017, having a marvellous season out of the bullpen. He had a perfect 6-0 record, a 2.06 ERA, and a 10.3 K/9 versus a 1.9 BB/9.
Most notably, Morrow appeared in all seven games of the World Series against the Houston Astros. He was stellar in all but one of those games: the historic Game 5 in which the Astros won 13-12. He didn’t record an out and was roughed up for four hits, four runs, and two home runs (one of which was by current Blue Jay George Springer).

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Former Blue Jays Ross Stripling and Derek Fisher also appeared in that game.

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