I’ve always had a soft spot for Brandon Morrow. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there’s an endearing quality to him that really helped suck me into the hype when he was coming up. On top of that, his potential was seemingly limitless, and it wasn’t hard to imagine him turning into an ace. Despite his glaring inconsistency, I remained optimistic, as his periodic flashes of brilliance had always managed to stick with me more than the disappointments.
Specifically, his final start of the 2009 season. I was at the game, and never had I been filled with more hope for the future than when I walked away from Safeco Field that night, after watching the most dominant pitching performance I’ve ever seen in person. And while that was a special night, it just made it that much harder for me when the news broke that he’d been traded. Sure, I could understand the reasoning behind it – he’d spent 3 full seasons in the big leagues, and at age 25, it was becoming less and less likely that he’d ever come close to that sky-high ceiling. But I wasn’t overly excited about the return, and I was sad to see Morrow go.
Now, it’s August, and capped off by his near-no-hitter on Sunday, it’s becoming clear that Brandon Morrow has finally put it together. He’s striking out more hitters than ever at 10.67 per 9, and walking fewer than ever at 4.03 per 9. His 3.69 xFIP is impressive despite his .340 BABIP, and he’s on pace for roughly 5 WAR. He’s having an excellent season no matter how you look at it, and while he may never be the bona fide ace that we once hoped for, he appears to have, at age 26, become the above average starter that many had lost hope for.
It’s easy to become spiteful of a player that only finds success after going elsewhere, but I don’t feel that way about Brandon Morrow. I’m happy for him – the same way I’m happy for Adrian Beltre. Of course, I wish they had found this kind of success in Seattle, but it’s clear to me that they couldn’t have – for separate reasons. For Beltre, it’s as simple as park factors, but for Morrow, it’s a bit more complicated. After all of the struggles, poor decisions, and mishandling he had gone through in this organization, I don’t think he ever would have been able to find consistent success as a member of the Mariners. It’s cliche, but sometimes a change of scenery really can make all the difference in the world, and it makes me happy that he’s found success somewhere.