The Dodgers found a gem last winter in Brandon Morrow, who helped fortify the bullpen in the final four months of the season and into the playoffs.
What went right
Morrow was one of the most secure bridges to Kenley Jansen the Dodgers have ever had, and the key right hand man in the club’s best bullpen during this five-year run of division titles.
Signed to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training, Morrow was called up to the Dodgers first on May 29.
Morrow posted a 2.06 ERA and 1.55 FIP in his 45 major league games, with 50 strikeouts and just nine walks in 43⅔ innings.
Opposing batters hit just .194/.241/.213 against Morrow in the regular season. Among major league pitchers with at least 20 innings in 2017, Morrow had the third-best OPS allowed (.454), trailing only Andrew Miller and Craig Kimbrel.
2017 was the first season since 2010 that Morrow didn’t spend any time on the disabled list.
Morrow was an absolute workhorse in the postseason, appearing in 14 of the Dodgers’ 15 games, tying Paul Assenmacher’s (1997) record for most games pitched in one postseason. Morrow was the second pitcher ever to appear in all seven World Series games, joining Darold Knowles (1973).
“I kept going,” Morrow said. “Whenever the phone rang, I threw the ball.”
What went wrong
To show just how futile it is to try to evaluate relief pitchers in such short sample sizes, and how volatile the position is, Morrow put up a 7.20 ERA in 20 innings in Triple-A Oklahoma City. Opposing batters hit .294/.341/.518 against him with five home runs in 92 plate appearances.
Morrow worked on three consecutive days just once all season — he pitched on back-to-back nine times in the regular season, counting both the majors and minors — and it came back to bite him. In Game 5 of the World Series, Morrow entered with a one-run lead in the seventh inning. He threw only six pitches — one was wild, two were hit over the fence and another was hit for a double. He allowed four runs in a game the Dodgers would lose in extra innings.
Stats: 2.06 ERA, 1.55 FIP, 50 K, 9 BB, 43⅔ IP
Salary: pro-rated share of $1.25 million while in majors (roughly $785,000), plus another $250,000 for pitching in 40 major league games
Game of the year
Morrow sliced through the Cubs in two innings on just 18 pitches in Game 2 of the NLCS, keeping the game tied through the sixth and seventh innings in a game the Dodgers eventually won, in dramatic fashion.
Morrow is a free agent, one who would like to return to the Dodgers but also one who seeks a multi-year deal.