May 27, 2010

Time For Morton To Go To The Minors

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / May 27, 2010

This is nothing I haven't said before, but it's time to option Charlie Morton to pitch in Indianapolis.

Morton gave up seven runs in two innings tonight - including back-to-back first inning home runs - and will wake up tomorrow morning 1-9 with a 9.35 ERA. This was against a Reds team that was was without its best hitter, Joey Votto, and instead had Miguel Cairo hitting second.

After ten starts, there is no "He pitched well but got unlucky," "He has major league stuff," etc. There's only the performance which is killing this team.

I'm sure Pirates management will point to Morton's recent string of quality starts. But he really struggled in some of those games. In his home start last Saturday Morton used 109 pitches to get through six innings of three run ball, and easily could have easily been chased in the second or third inning if the Braves had capitalized on their opportunities with men on base. Moreover, a six inning/three run game should be an MLB pitcher's average start, not the best he could possibly hope for.

Morton has now allowed 52 runs (45 earned) on 66 hits (12 home runs) in 43.1 innings. Also 16 walks, four hit batsmen and a balk. Being left to pitch terribly in the major leagues does nothing to help a pitcher's development.

Also, this is Morton's age 26 season. He's a year younger than Zach Duke. These aren't like the early 20s struggles that Greinke and others got past. Morton is, or should be, in the prime of his career.

Remember when Ian Snell was sent down last year? Snell had a 5.36 ERA at the time in 80.2 innings. Charlie Morton would have to throw a month of shutout ball even to get to that point. He also has a 6.10 career ERA so it's not clear where there's a baseline level of good performance to go back to.

Look around the league. There's a reason nobody else is starting guys with an 8, 9 or 10 ERA. Maybe it would be conceding defeat in the McLouth deal, but there's no reason to give Charlie Morton another start until he shows that he can dominate AAA hitters.

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