Morrow's breakout season continues

Morrow's breakout season continues

Morrow's breakout season continues
TORONTO -- Had an oblique injury not cost Brandon Morrow over two months of his season in the middle of the year, he may have been looking at his first All-Star Game selection.

Moreover, he could have put his name in the American League Cy Young discussion.

In two starts since returning from the disabled list, Morrow has allowed three earned runs over 11 1/3 innings, while walking two and striking out 12.

For the season, he sits at 8-5 with a stingy 2.93 ERA. In those eight victories, the right-hander has allowed just four runs -- good for a 0.64 ERA -- and 38 hits. His three shutouts are tied for second most in the Majors behind only Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.

His evolution as a pitcher has been on full display this season, and manager John Farrell believes the crispness of his secondary offerings, to complement his mid-to-upper 90s fastball, has been the key.

"The feel of his curveball and the consistent execution of it, which was more evident [on Friday] than his start in Baltimore [his first start back from the DL]," Farrell said when asked what the biggest difference in Morrow was from last season. "He spent a lot of time on that in Spring Training, and has reaped the rewards from the emphasis on that.

"He's always had the ability to spin a baseball."

Farrell also feels that he is doing a much better job holding runners on, which in turn has prevented baserunners from reaching scoring position on him.

"He's reduced his unloading time by two- to three-tenths of a second, which, as it relates to controlling basestealers, that's a huge difference," Farrell said.

The skipper went on to say he believes Morrow is more comfortable since he signed a multiyear deal and has some security for the first time in his career. The Blue Jays re-signed Morrow to a three-year deal, with an option for a fourth, worth $20 million in January.

He appears to be showing that level of comfort as he continues his breakout campaign.

Among AL pitchers who have thrown at least 80 innings this year, Morrow ranks third in opponents' on-base percentage (.270), fifth in OPS (.617) and sixth in slugging (.348), while his .209 batting average against is tops in the league. The types of names ahead of him in those categories are aces Jered Weaver, Justin Verlander, David Price and Hernandez.

The Blue Jays will need help in their rotation next season. But they should feel content knowing they have a No. 1-caliber starter and ace in Morrow.