What Will Charlie Morton Bring To Pittsburgh Pirates Rotation?


The Pittsburgh Pirates will likely have Charlie Morton back in the rotation soon. Along with Charlie Morton comes many things.  Let’s list a few of our favorite things before we get into some specifics on his rehab starts.  Please tweet us your Morton comments or leave a comment below.

1.  The Morton Electric Stuff Single/Video from Mercerboy has to be one of the best songs ever.

2.  The #ElectricStuff hashtag will takeover twitter.  Bucco fans have a connection to Morton and despite being disappointed repeatedly with his production, many still support him.

3.  Should Morton succeed in this long comeback, don’t forget the excellent work of Dejan when he was with the PG.  Dejan dove headfirst into the rebuilding of Ground Chuck writing this solid article with a classic Kovacevic opening paragraph.

"Charlie Morton pulled the office door closed behind him.Jim Benedict, the Pirates’ minor-league pitching coordinator, sat behind his  desk at the team’s spring complex on this mid-February morning in Bradenton,  Fla., and Morton grabbed a chair, as well. Benedict is one of those baseball  lifers whose perpetually frowning mustache and seed-spitting style make him a  classic Hollywood character in one sense, but all business in the real world.  And this, for sure, would be all business. There were no windows, no framed  pictures. The stark, white walls left nowhere for these two to hide from a  conversation that, for very different reasons, neither wished to have."

The follow up article on the person and the potential of Morton never came to pass…well not yet anyway, but the article is still fascinating.

3.  It’s been a long time, and it will be fun to see the ElectricStuff photoshops return.

4.  Maybe some excellent work like this from Morton against the San Francisco Giants could return?

5.  But the big thing we miss is just what the 6’5″ Morton does the best since being reconstructed by Jim Benedict, Ray Searage and other coaches within the Buccos organization.  The groundball out.

Enough with the fun stuff.  Let’s get down to the specifics.

With many of the Bucs starters spending so much time rehabbing early in the 2013 season, we lost track of what Morton was doing, so let’s take a quick look.

AAA: 3May

Morton pitched three innings of hitless baseball walking two and striking out one. ElectricStuff recorded six groundouts and two flyouts.

AAA: 27May

Over five innings, Morton gave up seven hits. Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle stated he was working on a cutter to solve the challenge he has faced in the big leagues against left-handed hitters. On the NH Show, the Bucs GM said the team gave direction to Morton and they were looking to see how he responded.

Morton worked five innings and recorded eleven groundouts and two flyouts. He also walked three batters and struckout three.

AAA: 2June

Against the Columbus Clippers, Morton threw 86 pitches. He got six ground ball outs, walked four and struckout four. He allowed a two-run homer to Cord Phelps in the first inning accounting for the two earnies. Morton allowed three hits, but gave up just one after the first inning.

While in Double-A, Morton controlled the hitters–ten hits in 18.2 innings although two balls left the yard.   The six walks stands out to us and continues to make me wonder why Morton doesn’t trust his stuff, or maybe more specifically can’t control the movement on his pitches.

Watching Morton is always enjoyable.  The talent is there.  The ability is obvious.  Reports that his velocity is up are encouraging, but 15 walks in a little over 34 rehab innings concerns me along with those four homers.

So against the best hitters Morton has faced this year, the eclectic right-hander has served up 23 groundouts in 12.2 Triple-A innings….38 outs–23 via the groundball.  That’s Morton.

We have heard about the cutter experiment and the redirection by Huntington and Hurdle.   So we can assume that Morton was working on the cutter and just not focused on his sinker in many of his rehab starts.  So it’s hard to imagine how many more groundouts he might have had by just focusing on his sinker.  (It’s also hard to imagine a specific plan of pitch selection wasn’t discussed with Morton)

But in the end, no matter how long I stare at the numbers, it’s difficult to anticipate just what Morton will bring to the Pirates rotation.

It always has been.

Maybe it always will be.