Chicago Cubs: Brandon Morrow fits the mold for the Cubs’ closer

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

For the Chicago Cubs’ Brandon Morrow, it’s been a long journey to where he’s at now. Type 1 diabetes, injuries and more challenged him wherever he went. But he’s come out on top of all of it.

Up until the last few seasons for the Chicago Cubs, the closer wasn’t always someone the team would spend big money on. The role always seemed to be taken by someone you wouldn’t expect. But that also may have been because the Cubs weren’t very good.

So they had time to groom someone for the role. Or take someone that looked to be done and make it work. From Ryan Dempster to Kerry Wood. Kevin Gregg to Carlos Marmol, even on to Rule 5 pick, Hector Rondon. The Cubs didn’t spend money for closers, but that needs to be rethought.

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Moving on from Rondon

Once the Cubs moved on from Rondon to Aroldis Chapman, that was the end for Rondon. The Cubs signed Wade Davis the following winter, and Rondon was giving his walking papers.

Some were upset the Cubs didn’t shell out for Davis or Greg Holland. But Davis got a higher AAV than Chapman. And Holland is still awaiting a deal. Guess I can’t rule it out, but it’s highly unlikely.

To close, or not?

So the Cubs brought in Brandon Morrow on a two-year, $21 million deal. Did they know he was going to be their closer at the time?

Maybe not. It’s hard to assume they would give him that type of money to a guy that had saved just two games since 2009. But sometimes, things just happen for a reason.

Morrow has Type 1 diabetes, but that wasn’t going to stop him. He was drafted fifth overall in the 2006 Draft, ahead of such names as Max Scherzer, Andrew Miller and Clayton Kershaw. He made his debut in 2007, but mostly in relief. The wear of going between starting and the bullpen were starting to take their toll.

Not the first guy

Caught in a similar predicament as Jeff Samardzija, Morrow just needed the opportunity to start. He got his chance in 2009, and in 2010 he impressed his current manager with an 8 2/3 innings of no-hit ball. He finished with 12 strikeouts in a complete game win.

"“He probably pitched maybe the best game I’ve ever seen,” Joe Maddon recalled."

Lingering shoulder issues continued to bother Morrow, leading the Blue Jays to decline his 2015 option. Morrow caught on with the San Diego Padres and pitched to 2.39 ERA in 49 innings over 29 games. He was offered a minor-league contract from the Dodgers in 2017, and the rest is history.

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Morrow wears an insulin pump to regulate his blood sugar levels. While his days of starting might be behind him, closing out games for the Cubs could prove to be a massive undertaking for him. And it’s one that he’s okay with.

"“I don’t think mentally it will be too big for me,” Morrow said at spring training Wednesday in a calm but direct tone. “I think I have come a long way.”"

The Cubs have never been keen on spending money for closers. They’ve always found it better to develop from within. Maybe they signed Morrow with the intention of being the closer. Perhaps it just came about with the way things worked out. But either way, Morrow isn’t shying away from the role. His perseverance won’t let him.