Charlie Morton is Completely Average, but That’s Fine


What would one think of when they think of a league average pitcher? Typically, it would be someone that eats innings, gives up three or four runs over the six or seven innings they generate virtually every start and show occasional flashes of brilliance. However, for the Pirates, the pitcher they may think of would be Charlie Morton.

Last season, Morton was almost exactly league average. His 3.72 ERA was just a shade above league average, giving Morton an ERA+ of 96. His 1.27 WHiP was a shade below the league average of 1.28. Morton gave up an exactly league average .295 batting average on balls in play. In fact, if he could remain healthy, Morton would be fairly close to the definition of league average.

With the Pirates rotation set to be headed by Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano, they likely just need for Charlie Morton to be a league average pitcher. However, that does come with that caveat of being able to remain healthy, which has been a struggle for Morton for the past few seasons.

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In fact, those struggles to remain healthy are reflected in Morton’s projections for the 2015 season. Steamer projects Morton to make all of eight starts, albeit with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.417 WHiP over his 48 innings. Even with Vance Worley and Jeff Locke contending for the rotation, the Pirates are likely to need far more than eight starts from Morton.

For his part, Charlie Morton is expecting to be healthy in 2015. After missing the end of the 2014 season due to hip surgery, Morton has already begun a throwing from 120 feet and expects to be ready for Opening Day. Given his history, it may be best that the Pirates allow him to ease back into the rotation, giving him a chance to work his way back to starting.

With the Pirates depth in the rotation, they may not need Morton to be more than the league average pitcher he was last season. He could slot in nicely as the Pirates fourth or fifth starter, depending on his health. Since that health has been dubious at best, the knowledge that they may not need to have to rely upon Morton could allow him to be used a bit more judiciously, perhaps skipping a start here and there.

Charlie Morton is the perfect back of the rotation pitcher. With better luck and better health, he could be a factor in 2015.