By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) Righty reliever Brandon Morrow is a Cub pending a physical, but the bigger question is what his arm and body will feel like at the end of September if he’s as reliable as he has been in the past two seasons.
Morrow will be 34 on July 26, will be paid like a closer and will likely act as one for the most part at the back of the Cubs’ bullpen, engendering the trust of manager Joe Maddon due to his consistent strike-throwing and ability to keep the ball in the park. And therein lies some concern.
Maddon admits freely that his first gameday issue is always the availability of relievers and how he can plan situationally for the expected high-leverage outs and the use of what he calls his “even or ahead guys” per the scoreboard. It’s easy to fall out of Maddon’s favor, and the manager has a tendency to shrink his circle of trust.
With Morrow’s history of injuries to his shoulder, forearm and hand, it will behoove executive Theo Epstein to load up his bullpen with more options in an effort to limit Morrow’s workload from the outset and, perhaps more importantly, in the latter stages of another playoff push by bolstering the roster with in-season moves.
That was the plan with Justin Wilson last year to help out a heavily used Wade Davis, and it failed spectacularly when Wilson couldn’t find the plate. New pitching coach Jim Hickey will be tasked with reclaiming Wilson as one of those high-leverage options alongside Pedro Strop and the mercurial Carl Edwards Jr., who last left us also screaming for him to just throw a darned strike.
Morrow might appear to be the closer for the moment, but he should be just the start.