The Cubs have shut down Brandon Morrow for the remainder of the 2018 season, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced to reporters Tuesday (Twitter link via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune). Morrow has been out since mid July due to a biceps injury.
Signed to a two-year, $21MM contract on the heels of a resurgent 2017 campaign, Morrow was nothing short of excellent for the Cubs when healthy enough to take the field. In 30 2/3 innings, he racked up 22 saves and posted a 1.47 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.59 HR/9 and a career-best 51.9 percent ground-ball rate.
With Morrow out, right-hander Pedro Strop has gotten the majority of the Cubs’ save opportunities, although Strop himself has recently been hobbled by a hamstring injury and isn’t expected to return until the postseason. Right-handers Steve Cishek and Jesse Chavez have each found their way into save opportunities late in the year, and it seems likely that manager Joe Maddon will go with a matchup-based committee approach down the stretch.
Gonzales tweeted earlier in the day that right-hander Allen Webster could be a candidate to come up to the Majors if Morrow is unable to return. The top prospect-turned-journeyman hasn’t been in the Majors since 2015 but has been excellent since debuting for the organization this summer — albeit in a small sample of work. Through 17 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA with an outstanding 24-to-3 K/BB ratio, one homer allowed and a ground-ball rate near 60 percent.