To say that Charlie Morton’s career as a Pittsburgh Pirate has been a roller coaster ride would be the understatement of a lifetime.
But as the 2013 MLB playoffs continue and the Bucs face their biggest game in two decades it will be the man with “electric stuff” getting the ball Monday afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals.
And Pirates fans should be very confident in Morton.
Coming off Tommy John surgery last year, Morton became one of the Bucs’ most efficient pitchers down the stretch. His 7-4 record and 3.26 ERA on the season are indicators but the confidence in Morton should come from his performance down the stretch.
The right-hander posted a 6-2 mark (3.28 ERA) in the second half of the season. He’s had a string of no-decisions in his past four starts but is 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA in his past 11 starts with only one home run allowed.
It’s true that the Cardinals have owned Morton throughout his career. Since April of 2011, Morton is 0-6 against the Cardinals. He lost a 13-0 decision in early August, but also rebounded well against that same Cardinals lineup and threw a gem at Busch Stadium, a game he should have won if not for Starling Marte’s dropped fly ball.
If this game were being played in St. Louis I don’t think I would want Morton anywhere near the pitching mound, but it’s being played in PNC Park, where like many other Pirates pitchers, Morton has experienced great success this season.
In 53.2 innings pitched at home this season, Morton has posted a pretty solid 2.85 ERA to go along with 41 strikeouts to only 15 walks.
If he’s got that sinker going early, I would expect to see plenty of ground balls. If that’s the case, Morton should be able to give the Bucs enough to win.
And the good part is that he doesn’t have to give them a lot.
Naturally the Pirates don’t want this series to go back to St. Louis, so I would expect it to be all hands on deck in the bullpen. Everyone should be ready to go, possibly even A.J. Burnett.
With that being said, Morton just needs to give the team five or six solid innings of work, something he is more than capable of delivering. Heck, four solid innings could be enough.
Many Pirates fans worry about Morton, but you should be confident in the talented right-hander getting the job done. If for some reason he doesn’t have great stuff today, you will know early on in the game, in which Pirates manager Clint Hurdle should have a quick hook.
But Morton is a battler and has enough quality secondary pitches to get the job done. I’m very confident in him getting the ball in Game 4 and you should be too.
Many fans were very upset when general manager Neal Huntington dealt Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for a package that included both Morton and Jeff Locke.
That trade has a chance to pay off in a big way Monday afternoon.