Why Is Charlie Morton Still in the Pirates Rotation?

Mitchell SellContributor IApril 21, 2010

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 20:  Charlie Morton #37 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is relieved of his duties by pitching coach Joe Kerrigan #26 as Ryan Doumit #41 looks on during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 20, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Pirates never had any hope of winning Tuesday night's game at home against the Milwaukee Brewers. Was it because of the disparity in talent? Well, that's a part of it, but the Pirates record currently sits at 7-6, so they have evidently been finding ways to somehow win games. The main reason there was no hope is demonstrated in the picture above. Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan barely had time to get settled on the bench before he had to walk to the mound and take the ball away from Charlie Morton in the first inning, which is unfortunately becoming a common sight.

This performance (5 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned, and 3 walks) was far from an anomaly. Last season against the Chicago Cubs he gave up 10 runs in the first inning. His total numbers from last season were a 5-9 record with a 4.55 ERA. Has he had quality starts? Absolutely, but they aren't consistent enough. His numbers in 3 starts this season have been atrocious. He has only pitched 9.1 innings so far. That's right, 9.1 innings in 3 starts. He is 0-3 with a 16.55 ERA.

Luckily for him, Manager John Russell is about as animated as a corpse. He came out after the game and said Morton is in no danger of losing his spot in the rotation. After last week's start, he had this to say: "He had some very good innings, some good stuff. But he left a ball over the plate for a three-run home run and hung a breaking ball for another. Other than that, I thought he threw the ball pretty well." Let's hear it for accountability!

This is not to say that Charlie Morton will never get better. He has had quality starts in the past, as I indicated earlier. Right now, he is producing anything but that. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he still has an option left. There has to be somebody else in the system who can fill the 5th spot in the rotation. Maybe a trip to AAA would be beneficial at this point for Morton, because continuing to send him to the mound against MLB lineups just seems like cruel and unusual punishment.