The Pittsburgh Pirates will do some tinkering to the starting rotation this week. Jeff Karstens is being shelved for the time being with a tired arm. Daniel McCutchen will assume Karstens spot in the rotation tonight against the Cardinals.
They will also need a starter for Sunday, as Ross Ohlendorf won't be taking his scheduled start. The guy to keep an eye on is Charlie Morton. Morton needs this opportunity. Pirates fans need it as well.
Morton deserves at least a five-start look at the end of the season. The Pirates have to find out which guy they have. Is it the Charlie Morton that showed towards the end of 2009 that he can be a capable major league pitcher? Or, do they have the Charlie Morton that simply couldn't get major league hitters out consistently in 2010?
The Pirates should believe in Morton still. He has all the tools. He has a great arm with a fastball that can top 95 mph and can back that up with above average breaking stuff.
I vowed to never use the term "great stuff," after hearing it over a thousand times this year during Pirates telecasts, but Morton has it.
Morton has to show better command this time around. He has to locate better or he will get crushed. He has to pitch off his fastball more. It's a weapon and he needs to use it to get people out.
He also has to be much tougher mentally as well. He's too talented to fold and start giving into hitters. The scouting reports on Morton, dating back to his days in the Atlanta system, have always questioned his head. With the "stuff" a guy like Morton has, he has to have a bulldog-like mentality.
Throwing to Chris Snyder instead of Ryan Doumit should help out as well. In his short time in Pittsburgh, Snyder has shown that he will call the game to the pitchers strengths instead of working to their weaknesses, which Doumit is very fond of doing.
Morton is a much better pitcher than his 1-9 record and 9.35 ERA indicate. If the opportunity is given to him, he must take advantage of it.
This could be a second chance served up to him on a silver platter. He must approach it with that attitude or risk not being part of a future Pittsburgh Pirates rotation. He needs to succeed. The Pirates need him to succeed. The fans need him to succeed.
This could be Charlie Morton's last stand as a Pittsburgh Pirate. He needs to come out fighting.