Brandon Morrow always wanted to be a closer.
That’s what he claims, at least.
“Once they traded [ex-closer] J.J. [Putz]…I kept going back and forth and back and forth,” Morrow was quoted as saying. “I just felt like a big relief when I went back to the bullpen, because I feel that’s like my home now.”
So what if the Mariners had plans to use him as a starter. So what if they drafted him with the fifth (yes, fifth) overall pick in the 2006 June Amateur Draft. So what if four of the next six picks immediately following Morrow’s selection would turn into starting pitchers currently on Major League rosters (No. 6 Andrew Miller, No. 7 Clayton Kershaw, No. 10 Tim Lincecum, No. 11 Max Scherzer). If Brandon Morrow wants to be a closer, then Brandon Morrow should be a closer.
Closers are a dime a dozen, and usually aren’t drafted anywhere near the fifth overall pick in any draft. Selecting a future closer in the top 10 picks would be like taking a kicker No. 1 overall in your fantasy football draft. Not only would you be laughed out of the room, but you’d be beating yourself up all season long for your unthinkable gaffe.
Which is why the Mariners selected Brandon Morrow with the sole intention of making him a long-term starter. And were instead rewarded with a low return on their costly investment.
Fact is, most closers are often failed starters. Guys who can’t seem to locate a fastball real well, or fool hitters for more than two innings.
Morrow was anything but that.
In his first Major League start last September, Morrow carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before surrendering a two-out double to pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit. That would be Wilson Betemit of the New York Yankees.
Morrow was on the fast track to becoming the Next Big Thing. Now he’s just another guy at the back end of a seldom-used bullpen. Being the closer on a losing team is like being fifth flute in a college marching band. If anyone notices you, it will usually only be because you screwed up.
Maybe Morrow becomes the next Trevor Hoffman (554 career saves) and proves all of us who want him to be a starter wrong.
Of course, there’s always the chance he becomes the next Eric Gagne (187 career saves, after posting an 11-14 record as a starter), and fizzles out by age 31.
Either way, the only thing we know for sure is that Morrow believes he is a closer, has embraced his role as such, and has placed that role on a pedestal so high that it defies logic.
Brandon, you’re better than this.