Morrow, who has been out since mid July with biceps inflammation, is unlikely to return before the end of the regular season, manager Joe Maddon told reporters on Wednesday. Here's more from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune:
"This is (Sept. 5) and there are 25 more days in the month. It's hard to really get him up to speed because you have to talk about building arm speed up, seeing hitters, throwing, (getting a) day off, throwing again, and just to be cautious regarding consecutive appearances or how many pitches he's going to throw. So there is a lot to consider yet."
Morrow is playing long toss and said last week his arm was feeling stronger: "I'm not testing it. I'm actually building up for it. And I feel better, more energized. I don't foresee it stalling at all. I'm optimistic."
Maddon said there is no timetable for Morrow to throw off a mound and added there is "barely" enough time to get him back before the season ends on Sept. 30. Morrow was initially expected back in mid-September. The team officially announced the injury as inflammation, though Sullivan mentions a stress reaction as well.
The Cubs signed Morrow to a two-year contract worth $21 million this past offseason, after he reemerged with the Dodgers as a setup man last season. He battled injuries for years before throwing 43 2/3 innings with a 2.06 ERA and 50 strikeouts for Los Angeles last year.
Before the injury this year, Morrow had a 1.47 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. He went 22 for 24 in save chances.
Longtime setup man Pedro Strop has taken over as closer in recent weeks, going 9 for 11 in save chances with a 2.30 ERA in 15 2/3 innings since Morrow went down. He has a 2.45 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 55 innings overall this season. This is Strop's first extended stint as a closer. The Cubbies had Wade Davis and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning in the last two postseasons.
With Strop moving into the ninth inning, righty Steve Cishek and lefty Justin Wilson have taken over as the club's primary setup men, with Brandon Kintzler and Carl Edwards Jr. helping out. Career swingman Jesse Chavez has been a revelation since coming over at the trade deadline as well.
The Cubs came into Wednesday with the National League's best record at 81-57. They're three games up on the Brewers in the NL Central and 5 1/2 games up on a postseason spot in general. Chicago's in good shape with regards to the postseason race.