As pitching stints get longer during spring training, we can get a better understanding of who’s primed to get off to a good start once the regular season rolls around.
For the Pittsburgh Pirates, it looks like Charlie Morton is a great candidate to spring forward in April.
The 30-year-old right-handed starter tossed three scoreless innings at the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, allowing only one hit in the process. Pittsburgh prevailed 5-2 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., to improve to 5-1-1 in the Grapefruit League.
Morton, who projects as the Pirates’ No. 3 or 4 starter this season, has allowed one hit in five shutout frames this spring. His groundball-inducing sinker was effective against a Tigers lineup that included two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera and all-star outfielders Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson.
Offseason trade acquisition Jaff Decker drove in a run on a squeeze bunt, while Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer each had an extra-base hit. Chris McGuiness and Andrew Lambo combined to go 0 for 4 as their first-base battle continues.
MLB hopeful Brandon Cumpton had difficulty in the fourth when Jackson slammed a two-run homer, but last year’s spot starter still completed his two-inning assignment. Vin Mazzaro threw a scoreless fifth inning despite issuing a walk.
The Bucs get back at it Wednesday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays. Jeff Locke was scheduled to start for the Pirates, but he was scratched due to tightness in his right side. Righty Jay Jackson will get the call in Locke’s stead.