This season hasn’t gone too well for the two main components of the Braves-Pirates trade from last season. Nate McLouth‘s production declined a bit last season after his move to Atlanta, and he has completely fallen off this year. Pittsburgh got three players in return, though the most major league ready was Charlie Morton. He broke camp in the Pirates’ rotation this year, and has been one of the more notable 2010 disasters. It’s hard to ignore some of Morton’s crazy stats.
He has the NL-worst ERA, though you might not know it
If you go to the NL pitchers leaderboard and sort by ERA, you’ll see Edwin Jackson‘s name atop the list. That’s strange, because Morton’s ERA is over three runs worse than Jackson’s. That’s because Morton doesn’t have enough innings to qualify. He has made 10 starts, which puts him in a massive tie for second in the NL, but has thrown only 43.1 innings. Four and a third innings per start will not get the job done.
xFIP might like him a bit much
Not only is Morton’s ERA 9.35, but his FIP sits at 6.46, which is one of the worse ones I can remember. Yet his xFIP sits at just 4.38. This might lead some to think that he’s getting unlucky on fly balls, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Morton has a 30 percent fly ball rate and a 25 percent HR/FB ratio. Yet he also has a 24.4 percent line drive rate. I wonder how many 12 home runs he has allowed have come on line drives. That number could certainly alter a perception of ill luck.
His strand rate is crazy low, but…
Morton currently has a 49.1 percent strand rate, which at some point should change. It has already, really, as it has been 60 percent in May after 38 percent in April. On the road, though, he has a 38.5 percent strand rate. That’s pretty insanely low.
It’s not just his strand rate
The road hasn’t been a kind place for Morton. He’s striking out more hitters there and walking fewer, but everything else is worse. And by everything I mean his home run rate is off the charts. Of the 12 he has surrendered 10 have come on the road. His WHIP sits at 2.05, his BABIP is 4.18, his LD% is 28.6, and his HR/FB is 33.3.
When the going gets tough, the tough get Morton
Morton has faced only 12 batters in high leverage situations — when you average 4.1 IP per start you tend to miss out on those dramatics. Of those 12 hitters, six have picked up hits, producing eight runs, seven earned. All 12 have put the ball in play, and five have hit the ball on a line. Another five have hit it on the ground, though, so he has that going for him. Which is nice.
GAB didn’t help
Morton faced the Reds last night at the Great American Ballpark, and it went about as poorly as possible. In two innings he allowed eight hits, including two homers, and walked three. Yet he did strike out two, keeping up his 8.88 K/9 rate on the road.
Randy at Pittsburgh Lumber Co. thinks they should send Morton to Indy. His next start comes against the Cubs at home, so maybe the Pirates will give him one more shot before going with Jeff Karstens or Daniel McCutchen. But man, his numbers are really something else this year.