Introducing the Astros newest flame thrower, Charlie Morton!
The Houston Astros made a strong effort to bring in a top of the rotation pitcher this offseason. Fans were expecting Chris Sale, Chris Archer, or Jose Quintana. Instead, they bring in Charlie Morton on a two-year deal for $14 million. This caused a lot of head shaking around Astros Twitter. A total Stros move right?
Some could relate this to a Scott Feldman like deal, but for far less money and years. Morton is a better pitcher than he has demonstrated during his career with injuries and inconsistencies. He would show moments of brilliance followed by clickers. After missing the majority of 2016, Astros fans did not know what to expect. Not sure if anyone saw what Morton is doing this Spring coming.
In Morton’s first start this year, he received some raving reviews for his velocity. He was reportedly throwing his fastball between 94-97 miles per hour by Brian McTaggart. Last year, Morton was throwing 94.3 mph before his injury. Maybe this is the brand new Morton we should expect. It was only four games he started last year, so last year’s velocity could have been an outlier.
His career average velocity on his fastball is 91.6 mph, so the extra mph on the fastball will help him set up his breaking balls. Morton said in an earlier interview that he was surprised how strong the Astros came after him. He said they thought that they good help him develop his sinker better.
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Not only is Morton’s fastball going fast, but it has movement as well. Pair that up with a curveball and sinker. He will keep the hitters off-balance this year. Morton throws his curve ball at a career average of 78.1 mph. This differential is what could give Morton the advantage. Thus far, Morton looks good through five innings. Today, he pitched three shutout innings to get the much needed 12-2 win.
After the game, he talked to reporters about his velocity, if it was substantial during the season. He replied, “Good question. I don’t know. I would like to know. Check back with me come June.” He went on to say that he has had Springs where he would throw hard, but the velocity dipped later in the year. He did say that he threw harder after returning from Tommy John surgery, which was interesting. Video via Brian McTaggart.
For the sake of the Astros, if Morton can take the next step as a 33-year-old pitcher, it makes the chances of reaching the World Series better. He looks good now.
***Stats and velocity information from Fangraphs***