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Astros in Fantasy: Time to buy on Charlie Morton for your team

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Mar 24, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) delivered a pitch against the New York Mets during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) delivered a pitch against the New York Mets during a spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Should you add the Astros Charlie Morton in fantasy baseball?

The true die-hard fantasy baseball owners are looking over the daily spring training box scores. We don’t really care about the old veteran players. We are looking for that Jose Fernandez or Yordano Ventura surprises of the spring. Unfortunate their careers were cut short, but they had great springs to lead up to their debuts. The Astros top prospect is not on the active roster, but someone else is turning heads.

There have been some young arms impressing across baseball. One guy that I have kept my eye on is Astros right-hander Charlie Morton. No, he’s not a young prospect, but the 33-year-old is trying to restart his career. After losing the majority of 2016, Morton was given a second chance by the Astros.

While Astros fans were hoping for Chris Archer, Chris Sale, or Jose Quintana. Instead, they get Morton for two years $14 million. While there were some disappointments, most of the fans know that Luhnow knows what he is doing. He’s able to find waiver claims who become third starters in the rotation or key pieces in the pen. As Cody wrote yesterday, Morton could be a valuable pick up.

Is Morton worth it?

My question is, should we be picking him up in fantasy baseball? So far, there are not many people taking a chance on Morton. ESPN has him only owned in 2.1% of the baseball leagues. It’s up by 1.2 percent with his spring performance. With Yahoo Fantasy, he is owned in about 2% of those leagues. Yahoo cautions that despite the strong spring, he doesn’t hold any mixed league value.

What say you fantasy baseball owners, are you willing to use a roster spot on Morton? The answer is yes, but not right now. There are a few things that fantasy geeks have to think about. Which pitchers on their teams could be hitting the DL soon, it could open a roster spot? Is he a two-start pitcher for the second week if he is the third starter? Can someone have a career year at the age of 33?

An experts’ opinion.

Keith Law predicted that Morton would break out this season for the Astros. Law wrote that Morton was pitching at this level last year before an injury ended his season. It appears that Morton added some more zip on his fastball after Tommy John surgery a few years ago. Astros announcer Robert Ford said on Talking Stros that Morton doesn’t need the extra velocity on the fastball. He relies on his sinker and curveball to get most of the outs.

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The Astros have one of the best defensive infields in baseball so that Morton could pitch for weak contact. Like Dallas Keuchel, Morton has a high ground ball percentage.  Last year, he would have been tops in baseball with 62.8%, ahead of Marcus Stroman‘s 60.1%. Unfortunately, Morton only pitched 17 innings following his hamstring injury. During Keuchel’s off year, he had 56.7% groundball percentage.

According to Fangraphs, Morton’s velocity increased across the board last year. His career average fastball velocity is 91.6 mph but jumped up to a career high 94.3 mph last year. While he may not need the fastball, the extra velocity will help him miss bats. Spring training wins jobs, but April and May determine how long they keep that job.

Next: Astros May Have a Bargain in Charlie Morton

I might be willing to take a chance on Morton, but the players on my team are better. He has only pitched more than 150 innings twice in his career. That can change this year, add him if you have an average guy on your roster.

***Stats from ESPN.com and Yahoo.com***

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