Internally, the Mariners debated for the better part of two months whether to transition Brandon Morrow into a starter or not. The argument was simple: he is an awesome reliever, and there was no guarantee he would be even an effective starter. The argument seemed valid enough...until looking at where the M's are in the standings, and at Morrow's starting experience before reaching the big leagues. I have been a proponent of moving Morrow to the rotation since the end of last season, and I especially wanted to see it happen once the Mariners gave up on this season. There was absolutely NO reason to keep from finding out what he could do as a starter.
Even as a die-hard proponent of stretching Morrow out, I thought it would take at least three or four starts for him to show what I thought he was capable of. I was wrong. There is no doubt now. After just one start, Brandon Morrow has proven to everyone that he can start, and that he will be a member of the M's 2009 starting rotation. He is not going to go out and take no-hitters into the eighth inning every night, but the fact that he can says enough. Could a pitcher incapable of starting beat the odds and throw 106 masterful pitches like Morrow did last night? Could a pitcher incapable of starting maintain their stamina like that when they had not thrown more than 85 pitches or so in any game (majors or minors) this season?
I continue to put higher and higher expectations on Morrow, and he continues to blow me away. He looked at home as a starter. He had command, poise, control, and stamina. Going to a full windup did not bother him at all. If anything, Morrow looked more comfortable in a full windup. Though King Felix is still the unquestioned leader of the staff, I would argue that Morrow's start last night was the most significant one of the year for the M's. The starting rotation has holes, and it sure feels like one of them may have been plugged up for the next decade last night.
The Yankees are not quite what they used to be, but they still have one of the best lineups in baseball. Maybe Morrow got a little beginner's luck, but once again, the question is whether Morrow is a capable starter or not. I am a fan of taking some time to evaluate players (yet another reason I wanted the M's to transition Morrow much earlier), but the case is closed for me after last night. Brandon Morrow is a starter, and he is staying in the rotation for good. He has the potential to form a deadly 1-2 punch with Felix, and Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ryan Feierabend look like solid options behind them. This is why I was always a proponent of giving these young guys chances. Bill Bavasi never believed in his own talent, and that still boggles my mind. At least the Mariners are giving them chances now, and 2009 continues to look better and better because of it.