Morton is looking like the Astros third pitcher for the playoffs.
The Astros lost last night 4-3 after Francisco Liriano got his second loss in two appearances in Houston. They are still 70-40, but much has been made about the bullpen recently. At one point, the bullpen was a strength of the Astros. Things have changed.
Not to say things can’t get better, but let’s not focus on the bad from last night’s game. The Astros were rumored to be looking for a third starter at the trade deadline. A pitcher with enough experience to follow Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers.
After last night’s game, Brian Kenny tweeted out a GIF of a kid throwing money out the window. The tweet said, “Note to Astros. (Verlander)” While the Astros can still try to acquire Justin Verlander, they will have to take on a large part of his contract. In a perfect world, he could be the answer.
Enter Charlie Morton.
For now, Charlie Morton put his best foot forward last night. Yes, he gave up three runs, but he was able to last seven innings. There were also a few infections on defense that allowed the Blue Jays to score two of those runs.
What did Morton do that was impressive? The Astros needed their starters to go deeper into games, which is was Morton did. If he can pitch seven innings in the playoffs allowing three runs or less, chances of winning increase.
The competition for Morton.
Morton was efficient with his pitches, averaging 13.14 pitches per inning last night. He left the game after throwing 92 pitches so that he could have possibly thrown a few more pitches. With seven strikeouts and two walks, he found a way to limit his pitch count.
Morton’s ERA sits at a respectable 3.78 ERA. While a fourth starter is sometimes needed in the playoffs, Morton will be fighting Brad Peacock for that role. It is not clear what role Peacock will find himself in the playoffs. His most valuable role is the guy to come in and eat up quality innings when a starter leaves early.
It’s hard to discount the success that Peacock has had in the rotation. However, if the rotation is healthy, he could find himself back in the bullpen. Joe Musgrove has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings out of the pen, but Peacock could be the best at that. Collin McHugh could also emerge as a possibility.
The Astros took a risk by signing Morton, who missed almost the entire season last year. That risk appears to be paying off for the Astros. His velocity is up which helps his breaking pitches become more efficient. Hopefully, McCullers finds himself. The team desperately needs him as the second pitcher in the playoffs.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***