My last two fantasy baseball team names (for at least part of the season): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie's Angels. I had no idea who Charlie Morton was when he came back as part of the McLouth trade. So I sat down and watched one of his first starts against the Florida Marlins. IMMEDIATELY he became the pitcher that had the most potential in the Pirates rotation. With pitches making movements that I had never seen from any Pirates pitcher in a long time, it was so easy to fall in love with the way he pitched. However, Charlie Morton has been nothing short of schizophrenic when it comes to consistency during his first < two years as a Pirate. After the jump, a brief profile of #electricstuff (wrong) and why I still believe in him.
From Dejan Kovacevic June 3rd, 2009: "The Pirates have traded center fielder Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves tonight, according to two sources. In return, the Pirates will get two pitchers, Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez."
The Pirates had most likely attempted to trade for Tommy Hanson at this point as it was well known that he was the top pitching prospect and about to break in to the Atlanta rotation. When Atlanta balked, we took Charlie, Gorkys, and Jeff Locke. Charlie finished 2009 5-9, 4.55 ERA. Not great. But it was his first year in the league with significant innings (97 total) and it was his last start of the year that left us talking through the winter. Against Chicago, Complete Game shutout, 8Ks. An impressive way to end the year.
After being acquired in June of 2009, Charlie pitched less innings in all of 2010 than he did midseason 2009 and this was not due to injury. Charlie got knocked around almost every start before he was demoted. 43.1 IP, 45 ER. Whatever the reason, Charlie was not right. He was recalled at the end of August and performed much better towards the end of the year, being able to lower his ERA to 7.37 (9.35 when demoted) by the end of the year. And Charlie once again left us for the offseason with a performance to remember that this guy still has stellar stuff and potential. Against Florida, 6IP, 4H, 2ER, 9K.
*It should also be noted that in 2010 Charlie worked with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan to start the year and by the time he was recalled, Kerrigan had been fired and Ray Searage had taken over. Just more proof that Ray Searage may be the Pirates most valuable asset right now.
Although Charlie had the worst ERA in baseball last year for starters, I still drafted him for my fantasy team. This was mostly due to the reports out of training camp that Charlie had looked very good. To say the least. Charlie was an early season candidate for comeback player of the year posting a 2.51 ERA through the first two months of the year. With a new delivery, a new pitch, and new confidence, Charlie was able to dominate during the first two months. But through June, he has regressed, with only 1 quality start in his last 4 and he has now been benched for his next start in order to get some extended rest.
Will this be the trend for Charlie's career?
No, it won't. I think rest is something that Charlie needs. I went to the game on Monday when he only lasted 2 innings and you could tell just from watching him pitch that he looked exhausted. Charlie has already surpassed his inning total from last year and is almost reaching his total from two years ago. It was very encouraging from the Root Sports coverage the next day showing Hurdle and Searage sitting down with Charlie and talking to him. I am sure they are concerned about his confidence considering this decision. And Charlie should not be disheartened by this recent lapse, rather more motivated to get some strength back and learn how to adapt to fatigue. I'll be very surprised if he does not pitch much stronger during his next outing.
Final Word: Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay is a goal for Charlie Morton. They obviously have the same mechanics and pitching motion, but both have had different careers so far. Halladay is a hall of famer (or close) and Charlie Morton is trying to recover from the disappointment of last year. But anyone who says that Charlie has #electricstuff and then compares him to Roy Halladay is mistaken. Watching Halladay, I have never thought that his pitches were electric (as say Carlos Marmol is). Rather, Halladay is always consistent. He is always able to get through 7 innings, keep the ER low, and keep hitters confused with his pitches. When I first saw Charlie, I was attracted by his #electricstuff. Now that we've seen Charlie for 2 years now, we have seen signs of and are hoping for more of #consistentstuff.
Tomorrow: The Friday Five: Most Deserving All Star Candidates