Toronto Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow will miss at least the next couple of months after being placed on the 60-day disabled list, according to a team announcement. The move came after an MRI revealed a torn tendon sheath in Morrow’s right index finger, which is a similar injury to what hampered Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira's wrist in mid-March.
The Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin reports that Morrow heard a pop in his right index finger while pitching to Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte during the fifth inning of Friday’s game, then went to Arizona for his MRI. Luckily for the Blue Jays, Morrow is expected to avoid surgery, as reported by MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. At the very least, that means Morrow won’t miss the rest of the season, though he’ll still be out for a substantial chunk of time.
General manager Alex Anthoooulos feels confident about Morrow's recovery, via Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star, though it's hard to say just how much truth there is to the second part of Anthopoulos' remarks:
"(The doctors) said it’s a very rare injury, hard to say what the cause is," Anthopoulos said. "He said he felt a pop on the second-to-last pitch and we expect him to come back. we [sic] expect him to recover."
Manager John Gibbons will likely turn to left-hander J.A. Happ to replace Morrow in the rotation, which could easily backfire on the Jays given Happ's recent history, which has included ERAs of 4.56, 4.79 and 5.35 over the past three seasons, respectively.
On the other hand, Happ tossed five shutout innings in his first start of the season on Monday, improving to a 1.93 ERA on the season, albeit in just 9.1 innings of work. He'll be someone to keep an eye on over his next couple of starts.
Another option could be to give prospect Marcus Stroman some experience in the rotation. Even so, while Stroman has exclusively started since the beginning of 2013, his small build (5'9") and experience out of the pen earlier in his minor league career suggest a permanent bullpen spot might be the way to go with Stroman.
Giving the young right-hander a chance to start would certainly have long-term implications, and it wouldn't be the worst route to take for a team that figures to contend in the AL East (the Jays are 1.5 games back) but also lacks the firepower to make a legitimate playoff run.
Stroman, the club’s No. 2 prospect and 51st overall prospect according to MLB.com, has made a pair of relief appearances with the big league club after dominating at Triple-A Buffalo in five starts. If Happ reverts to his recent ways, Stroman figures to be next in line.
Either way, the injury is simply another setback for Morrow, who was expected to become an ace-caliber pitcher for the Blue Jays once upon a time. Despite possessing a career K/9 rate of 9.4, Morrow has been primarily limited by poor control (4.2 BB/9 for his career) and an inability to consistently keep the ball in the yard (1.0 HR/9). He's by no means finished, especially if he can make it back around the All-Star break as expected, but the window is certainly closing on Morrow's opportunity to prove his worth as a member of a big league rotation.