At the beginning of spring training, I was shocked to learn that Charlie Morton, the pitcher who posted a 7.57 ERA while going 2-12 in 2010, was again in the starting rotation. I hoped that by the end of spring training his second chance would be over and he would be in the bullpen—or better yet, gone.
I was wrong. Charlie Morton, who I refused to watch by the end of 2010, was still a starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, to my surprise, and to the surprise of just about anyone who watched opposing batters hit for a .332 average off of Morton in 2010, he had an above average April. Nothing overly spectacular, 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA over five starts, but I was impressed. Impressed and waiting for a collapse.
When May came around, Morton began to dazzle, drawing comparisons to Roy Halladay.
After reading an article by Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was on the Charlie Morton bandwagon.
And I couldn't believe it.
I found myself believing that Charlie Morton is the next Roy Halladay. Aside from the control, their stuff is nearly identical. And through the end of May, Charlie Morton was 5-2 with a sub 3.00 ERA. Those sound like Halladay-esque numbers to me.
Who has been the biggest surprise for the Pirates this year?
His first start in June was great. He gave up two earned on six hits in seven innings, picking up the win against the Phillies. But that was his only quality start of the month. Manager Clint Hurdle decided to skip Morton's last start of the month. Morton ended up 2-2 with an 8.50 ERA, while opponents hit .390 in June.
There's the Charlie Morton we know and love.
So far, Morton has had two starts in July. Both have been average starts, nothing really to write home about. He is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA.
Charlie Morton is now 7-5 with a 3.80 ERA. That is already an enormous improvement over last year's 2-12 7.57 ERA performance.
Despite recent struggles, I think the old Charlie Morton is gone. But the jury is still out over whether or not he can be a dominant Major League pitcher for years to come.