Cubs president Theo Epstein announced Tuesday that Brandon Morrow, who served as the team’s closer throughout the first half, has been shut down for the remainder of the 2018 regular season due to a bone bruise in his right elbow that has lingered since mid-July.
Morrow had a number of fits and starts with his rehab and never could quite get over the hump.
He told reporters that he knew his season was over on Monday when he felt a grabbing sensation in his right arm while reaching for a cup of coffee. The hope is that a full offseason of rest will allow the bone bruise to finally heal and that he’ll be 100 percent leading into the start of spring training next February. No surgery is required.
Morrow signed a two-year, $21 million free agent contract with Chicago last December and posted a tremendous 1.47 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the club before hitting the shelf. The 34-year-old is owed $9 million in 2019 and carries a $12 million club option (or $3 million buyout) for 2020.
The Cubs are also currently without fill-in closer Pedro Strop, who suffered a left hamstring strain while running the bases last Thursday. He’s not expected to be able to return to the mound until sometime in October, so the NL Central frontrunners will have to deploy a closer-by-committee strategy for what remains of the regular season and possibly into the playoffs. Steve Cishek, Jesse Chavez, Jorge De La Rosa, Carl Edwards Jr., and Randy Rosario could all get ninth-inning looks.
If we had to pick just one for fantasy purposes, it’d probably be Cishek, given his past experience as a closer. The 32-year-old sidearmer owns an impressive 2.32 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 75 strikeouts in 66 innings this season and he’s already tallied four saves. Chavez, though, has been even more lights-out (1.44 ERA in 31 1/3 innings) since the Cubs acquired him from the Rangers on July 19.
Chicago has won five of its last six games, including a 9-1 blowout win over the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, and currently holds a three-game lead on first place in the National League Central.
Court Back In Session
Aaron Judge returned at long last to the Yankees’ starting lineup on Tuesday after essentially missing the last seven weeks with a chip fracture in his right wrist. He was activated from the disabled list last Friday, but manager Aaron Boone limited the 26-year-old slugger to late-inning defensive duties until he proved his health with 11 simulated at-bats against live pitching on Monday.
Judge didn’t make much of a contribution to the Yankees’ 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night in the Bronx, finishing 0-for-4 with a strikeout while leaving three runners on base, but he hit a 112.1 mph lineout to right field in his first at-bat and missed a home run by about five feet in his third at-bat. He showed encouraging timing at the plate given all the games he missed.
Judge batted second for the Yankees in his return, which is where he’s hit all year. Including his 0-for-4 showing on Tuesday, he’s slashing .282/.395/.543 with 26 home runs and 61 RBI in 101 games this season.
The guy is certainly capable of some fantasy fireworks over the final stretch of September.
Chapman Getting Close
The Yankees got more good news on the health front Tuesday, as closer Aroldis Chapman came out of his 22-pitch simulated game on Monday without experiencing any lingering discomfort in his left knee. He is expected to be activated from the disabled list within the next day or so -- possibly Wednesday and at the latest Thursday, ahead of the Yankees’ series finale against the rival Red Sox.
Chapman has been sidelined since August 22 due to left knee tendinitis. Because the injury did not involve his arm, it seems possible that manager Aaron Boone will throw him right back into the fire as the team’s ninth-inning man when he returns. Dellin Betances and David Robertson have essentially been sharing the role in Chapman’s absence, with a little bit of Luis Cessa mixed in.
The flamethrowing left-hander had registered a dominant 2.11 ERA and 84 strikeouts through 47 innings before landing on the disabled list, tallying 31 saves in 33 opportunities.
National League Quick Hits: Rockies manager Bud Black said Tuesday evening that Trevor Story's right ulnar collateral ligament is still intact and that the star shortstop could return to the lineup “in a few days” … Lorenzo Cain left Tuesday night's game against the Reds due to a sore intercostal muscle … Jameson Taillon dominated the Royals on Tuesday night, fanning a career-high 11 batters across seven shutout frames in a no-decision … Christian Yelich missed a cycle by a homer, a triple, and a double on Tuesday, but he did single and steal his 20th base … Trea Turner went 2-for-4 with an RBI and swiped his 40th base Tuesday against the Marlins … Travis Shaw was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Reds due to a right knee contusion … Stephen Strasburg fanned 11 while holding the Marlins to two runs in six innings Tuesday … Javier Baez launched his 33rd home run of the season in the Cubs’ rout of the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in Arizona … Paul DeJong clubbed a two-run home run and added an RBI single Tuesday in the Cardinals' victory over the Braves … Mets assistant general manager John Ricco expects minor league outfielder Tim Tebow to return for a third season in professional baseball … Adam Frazier was held out of the Pirates’ lineup Tuesday against the Royals due to a sore right knee … Ronald Acuna smashed a solo home run for the Braves' lone tally Tuesday against the Cardinals … Bud Norris (blister) remained unavailable out of the Cardinals’ bullpen Tuesday night against the Braves … T.J. McFarland has been shut down for the season due to inflammation around the bone spur in his left elbow … Making his first start since 2015, Michael Lorenzen limited the Brewers to an unearned run and one hit over four innings on Tuesday … Giovanny Gallegos is being called up to join the Cardinals' bullpen … Nick Senzel (finger) will play games in left field during the Reds' fall instructional league … Brewers released right-hander Daniel Missaki.
American League Quick Hits: Yankees purchased the contract of LHP prospect Justus Sheffield from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre … Blake Snell allowed just a single over five scoreless innings Tuesday to pick up his 20th victory in the Rays' win over the Rangers … Mookie Betts (side) is expected to DH on Wednesday against the Yankees … Jose Abreu was hospitalized in Cleveland on Tuesday due to an infection in his right thigh … Trevor Bauer (leg) threw off the mound to live hitters on Tuesday afternoon at Progressive Field … Michael Fulmer has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee and will likely undergo surgery on Thursday … Edwin Encarnacion (ankle) is expected to return to the Indians' starting lineup on Wednesday … James Paxton (illness) threw in the Mariners' bullpen ahead of Tuesday night's game against the Astros … Joey Gallo (toe) remains out of the Rangers' starting lineup Tuesday versus the Rays … Lance McCullers (forearm) threw a 30-pitch simulated game Tuesday at the Astros' spring training complex in West Palm Beach … Salvador Perez was out of the Royals' starting lineup Tuesday due to soreness in his left thumb … Neil Walker slugged a go-ahead three-run home run in the seventh inning of the Yankees' comeback victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday … Miguel Sano (knee) went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in his return to the Twins’ lineup Tuesday … Alex Cobb (finger) had a successful mound workout on Tuesday … Josh Reddick (heel) is considered day-to-day … Trevor Cahill (back) threw from a distance of 120 feet on Tuesday … Felix Hernandez (hamstring) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session this weekend … Jeimer Candelario departed Tuesday night's game against the Twins with a lumbar spine spasm … Andrew Triggs will undergo thoracic outlet surgery next Wednesday … Josh James struck out seven over 5 1/3 innings in the Astros' shutout of the Mariners on Tuesday … Trevor Hildenberger recorded his seventh save despite giving up a run in the ninth Tuesday against the Tigers … Luis Ortiz (hamstring) has been shut down for the remainder of the regular season … Nick Delmonico is day-to-day with a stiff neck … Matt Barnes (hip) expects to get back in games soon … Jimmy Yacabonis will start for the Orioles on Wednesday against the Blue Jays … Mitch Garver (head) is not expected to resume baseball activities before this weekend … Hunter Harvey experienced more discomfort in his elbow while throwing at the Orioles' spring training complex on Tuesday.