Cubs' Brandon Morrow won't pitch again this season due to bone bruise

ByJesse Rogers via ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

PHOENIX -- The Chicago Cubs officially shut down closer Brandon Morrow for the season as his recovery from a bone bruise in his pitching arm won't allow him to return in time for the end of the regular season or the playoffs.

"We knew we were running out of time to begin with," a disappointed Morrow said Tuesday afternoon. "Just the nature of the injury and the amount of time that it takes to clear out."

Morrow saw Diamondbacks team doctor Don Sheridan, who confirmed the bruise wasn't healing fast enough. The righty has been out since the All-Star break, and was attempting to pitch through some pain, but he never got to the point of being game-ready.

"Any time the plan is to pitch through discomfort, that's not a great long-term formula, but we let him go as long as he was honest about it with us," Epstein said. "He was."

Morrow added: "I was looking forward to it. And looking forward to helping the team finish out the season."

Morrow joins starter Yu Darvish on the shelf as both pitchers have been shut down for the same injury.

"Second bone bruise of the year," Epstein stated. "They typically take four months to heal. He was trying to push it to come back to help the team. ... His body wasn't allowing him to do it."

Though Morrow pitched up until the end of the first half, his discomfort began much earlier as Epstein pinpointed a June 2 extra-inning affair against the New York Mets as the start of the pitcher's issues. It was Morrow's third consecutive appearance and came in the bottom of the 14th after the Cubs had taken a 7-1 lead in the top of the inning. He wasn't supposed to pitch that day.

"He was someone we were going to stay away from," Epstein said. "He came in. I think that's a lesson learned -- never to stray away from the structure we had for him no matter what's going on in the game.

"I told him next year when he's down he's not going to be allowed to have his spikes on."

Morrow has an extensive injury history and pitched in all seven games of the World Series last year, but his offseason physical didn't reveal anything associated with his current ailment.

"I wasn't feeling anything like this last year," he said.

The official loss of Morrow -- which isn't a huge surprise -- combined with the recent hamstring injury to fill-in closer Pedro Strop leaves a potential hole at the back end of the bullpen. At least the team has had plenty of time to get accustomed to life without Morrow, and Strop could return by the postseason. Either way, the Cubs are banking on their top-ranked bullpen to come through in a big way. Their past five saves have come from five different players.

"There is no reason to hang our heads," Epstein said. "We have a deep bullpen that accomplished quite a bit. We lead the league in ERA, which is no small feat, and that's not the product of any one or two pitchers. That's a team-wide effort.

"There's no panic here. If we lose a game late, there's not going to be any panic. We're going to find a way."

Maddon added: "If we can continue to match them up and don't beat anybody up, we can continue the same trend."