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Charlie Morton’s Historic Season

FOUL: Charlie Morton lays one down against Arizona.

FOUL: Charlie Morton lays one down against Arizona.

If you had Charlie Morton on your fantasy baseball team this year, you know you’ve had a bad season.

The 26-year-old lanky Pirates righthander has struggled to say the least and has the chance to set a rather dubious record.  On May 28, the Pirates placed Morton on the DL with “shoulder fatigue.”  Yeah, probably from quickly turning his head to watch balls fly out of the park.  21.9% of balls lofted by hitters have left the park against Morton.

But, his numbers are not all that bad.  He has 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings and yields just 2.8 walks per 9.  Of balls put in play, however, MLB hitters are hitting .389 against him.

Morton was acquired from the Yankees prior to the 2009 season and he did a decent job for Pittsburgh last year going 5-9 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 starts.  This year, however, has been rough.

On Sunday, after being brought back up to the Bigs from Triple-A Indianapolis, Morton’s line against the Brew Crew was 3 1/3, 9 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, and 8 earned runs.  An inauspicious debut to say the least.  Morton’s line fo rthe 2010 season:  46 2/3; 75 hits; 52 earned runs; 13 homeruns allowed.  And, a 10.03 ERA.  Nevertheless, Pittsburgh plans to keep him in the rotation with Russ Ohlendorf out for the season with a shoulder injury.

“It’s been up and down, obviously,” said Morton, who must be an incredible optimist.

According to STATS, the worst ERA in history for a starting pitcher who figured in at least 10 decisions was 10.64 in 2000 by a guy by the name of Roy Halladay.  In 2000, Halladay was 4-7, 10.63 for the Blue Jays.  No other pitcher in modern history has figured in 10 decisions or more and had an ERA above 10.00.  (Charlie Stecher was 0-10 and 10.32 in 1890 for the Philadelphia Athletics.)  Steve Blass is probably the most famous Pirate pitcher to crash and burn.  Blass, in 1973, was 3-9, 9.85 just a year after winning the Cy Young Award!

Morton gets his next start today in Washington and how he does may determine what the Pirates do for the rest of the season.

“At some point, we may feel like it’s better to do something else,” said manager John Russell.

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