That's more like it.
This is more like how I expected Morrow to look in his first go-round as a Major League starter. All the telltale Morrow signs were present, both good and bad - high velocity, swinging strikes, inconsistent offspeed stuff, mediocre control, fly balls. He wound up getting pulled after five innings having thrown 90 pitches, and while it wasn't a spectacular effort or anything, it was a fine performance for a guy in Morrow's situation. You just have to kind of make yourself forget about what he did last Friday. Because as impossibly awesome as that was, it isn't fair to Morrow to let one start raise the bar of short-term expectations.
The quick rundown, since I'm pretty tired:
- Morrow's fastball averaged 94.5mph, down a tick from where it was a week ago. Could be real, might be a PITCHf/x stadium correction issue.
- Morrow didn't sustain his fastball velocity as long as he did last time out. Here's today's moving average chart, where each point is the average velocity of the previous five fastballs:
If you don't recall, this is what that chart looked like before. Tonight you can see a pretty clear dip there at the end where Morrow was presumably getting gassed. His fastball velocity averaged 95 through the first four frames, but it dropped to 93 in the fifth, after which he got yanked. Wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this was just Morrow's physiological response to being stretched out so long. His arm was worked harder last Friday than it's probably ever been worked before in his life, so it would make sense if he needs a little time to fully recover. I'm not concerned. All we've learned from this is that Brandon Morrow is human.
- Ten more swinging strikes. Even wild, Brandon Morrow is going to miss a lot of bats.
- The reason? Okay, yeah, he's got the fastball, but that curveball he's been throwing is out of this world. The command is not even close to being where Morrow would presumably like it, but the snap on that thing is almost savagely sharp. It's like the pitch doesn't so much travel along an arc as it does a pair of line segments, the first rising slightly and the second dropping down so as to form a pointy bit in the middle whereupon the pitch immediately changes direction. I clearly can't do this justice with words, so you just need to see it. Watch Morrow's curve. Watch the way it breaks. Watch the way hitters respond to its break. It's already a pretty good secondary pitch and Morrow doesn't have any idea where it's going. If he's able to improve his curve command by 20-25%, look out. In terms of pure movement, his is a power curve to end all power curves.
- Ten more changeups out of 37 pitches to lefties. It needs some work, but he threw a particularly nasty one to Garret Anderson when GA was clearly thinking fastball. That's a pitch with potential. Right now Morrow throws four pitches, but given the break on his curve and the potential in his changeup, I wonder if he might be better served dropping the slider and working on improving his other three weapons. Which isn't to say that his slider is bad, because it isn't, but I personally feel it's the worst of the bunch, and that he might be able to improve faster if he limits the number of things he's working on. But I'll let Morrow sort that out. Maybe I just haven't seen enough of his slider to get the right impression. But, oh, that curve...
- I am perfectly satisfied with how Brandon Morrow pitched tonight. It wasn't a one-hitter, but his ability is obvious to even the most untrained of eyes. If you were excited about him before - and I don't know why you wouldn't have been - there's no reason to change your mind now. This looks like a man on the rise.