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Brandon Morrow won’t be ready for Opening Day

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The Cubs righthander had an arthroscopic procedure on his elbow.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Brandon Morrow missed the second half of the 2018 season with various elbow issues. And now we know those issues were a bit more serious than anyone had thought:

If Morrow isn’t going to be throwing until February 6, that’s only 17 days before the first spring-training game and so likely only a few days before the pitcher/catcher report date next year.

I honestly have no idea how long it would take Morrow to ramp up from “start throwing” to “ready to take the mound in a major-league game,” but let’s say he winds up missing most or all of spring training. That would put him in extended spring training to throw for a while, then likely a rehab assignment, then maybe in the big leagues by... the end of April, let’s say, optimistically. It could be later than that.

Pedro Strop, then, likely takes over closing duties, as he did when Morrow was out during the second half of 2018. Strop handled those duties well, so I don’t think there will be any issues there. It means that other pitchers will have to step up and assume greater responsibility for the setup role. That will fall to Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler, and hopefully Brian Duensing.

It would also be helpful if someone like Dillon Maples could step up and take some of those innings.

As always, we await further developments.