Last season should have been Brandon Morrow’s long-predicted breakout.

Through his first 12 starts, the 28-year-old had three complete-game shutouts while posting a stingy 2.90 ERA. Aside from a disastrous first-inning blowup in Texas, he was pitching better than he ever had in his six-year career and was easily the Blue Jays’ top starter.

After five seasons of encouraging but mixed results, it finally looked as if Morrow was putting all the pieces together.

“It just felt like everything that I worked on in spring training translated to the season,” he said this week in Dunedin.

Then, six pitches into start No. 13 against the Washington Nationals on June 11, Morrow felt a stabbing pain in his left side. He would miss the next 2½ months with a strained oblique. Four days later, two other starting pitchers were injured and the season began its tailspin.