Marlins setup man Bryan Morris was placed on the disabled list today due to a herniated lumbar disc in his back, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, and the 29-year-old tells Spencer that he is considering season-ending surgery to repair the injury.
“At this point, surgery is the only option that can fix what is the issue,” Morris explained. “I can [also] take the route of taking cortisone injections and pitching through the season.” Morris said that he believes he could return by September if he elects to undergo surgery, though there’s certainly the possibility that the surgical route could bring his season to a close. Morris, however, said he feels as though he’s been pitching “at 60 percent” for most of the season.
Though the pain has been plaguing Morris, his bottom-line results on the season have been sound; Morris currently has a 3.06 ERA in 17 2/3 innings this year, though he’s also walked 10 batters and hit another in that time, demonstrating the weakest control of his career. Morris’ velocity is also down a full two miles per hour, as he’s averaging 93 mph on his heater this season as opposed to the 95 mph he averaged in 2015.
Morris was acquired by the Marlins from the Pirates in a 2014 trade that sent a Competitive Balance (Round A) pick to Pittsburgh, and he’s quietly been an outstanding member of the Miami bullpen over the past two calendar years. Since being acquired by Miami, Morris has pitched to a 2.30 ERA, averaging 7.1 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 to go along with a ground-ball rate near 56 percent. He agreed to a one-year, $1.35MM contract this offseason, avoiding an arbitration hearing as a first-time arb-eligible player. Miami controls him through the 2018 season.
The injury to Morris is the latest hit to a Miami relief corps that has already lost right-hander Carter Capps to Tommy John surgery and spent the bulk of the season without left-hander Mike Dunn. Miami was tied to bullpen help following the loss of Capps, and it stands to reason that the Fish could explore the trade market for help if Morris is indeed lost for most or all of the next four months. For the time being, Miami has recalled right-hander Nick Wittgren from Triple-A New Orleans to take his place.