Grounded Birds: Brandon Morrow Returns to Struggling Blue Jays

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Grounded Birds: Brandon Morrow Returns to Struggling Blue Jays
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

The youngest starting rotation in baseball is getting one of its senior citizens back tomorrow when 26-year-old Brandon Morrow returns for the Toronto Blue Jays' matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays.

His return from the disabled list could not come at a better time.

The Jays stormed out of the gate, winning five of their first seven games, only to come back down to earth over the past couple weeks, falling to their current 8-10 record.

A young rotation that showed so much promise last season has struggled mightily in the first month of the 2011 season.

Jo-Jo Reyes has struggled to carry the momentum from a strong spring training into the regular season and Ricky Romero has had an up and down campaign thus far. Recently demoted Brett Cecil has an ERA of 6.86 over his first four starts.

To say the Jays are itching for the return of Morrow would be an understatement.

In 2010, Morrow went 10-7 with an ERA of 4.49. While not an All-Star calibre year by any stretch, the enthusiasm surrounding Morrow was due to the incredible strides he made last season.

Eight of Morrow’s ten wins came at the Rogers Centre, including his most memorable performance of the season that him absolutely dominated the Rays with a 17-strikeout performance, coming just one out away from a no-hitter.  

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As is the case with any pitcher returning from an arm injury, questions remain. Will Morrow be able to return to his 2010 form? Will he be able to duplicate his home performances on the road in 2011?

And with the Jays’ offensive numbers down thus far, will he be able to win some games without the run support these young pitchers were often afforded last season?

Since coming over from Seattle prior to last season in the trade that sent Brandon League the other way, Morrow has been one of the more consistent starters for the Jays. Despite struggling with his command, he has the stuff to be an ace someday.

It is safe to say that more will be expected of the native of Santa Rosa, CA, based on his performance last year. And the Jays need to win now more than ever as their AL East rivals are finally starting to find their form.

Talk about expectations.

If anyone is prepared for the added pressure, it’s Morrow.

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