Charlie Morton’s ground ball rate

Dan Budreika took a look at Charlie Morton on RotoGraphs today. The portion that stuck out to me was this paragraph regarding Morton’s ground ball tendencies.

Morton’s strong ground ball rates have translated to the big leagues as well. During his rough go round in Atlanta he still had a 50% ground ball rate and last year in Pittsburgh it sat at 49%. It appears that he’s got the ability to have an above-average ground ball rate and possesses an average to slightly above-average ceiling on controlling his pitches within the strike zone in the big leagues.

I don’t think I had noticed that Morton has put up some solid ground ball rates in his career. A 50% rate would generally place a pitcher somewhere at the back end of the top 15 starters in baseball. That is an encouraging sign.

Combining good strikeout numbers and high ground ball rates is generally the mark of a top pitcher. Morton seems to have figured out how to keep the ball on the ground. However, while his stuff is nasty at times, he has posted pretty poor strikeout rates in the big leagues so far. Increasing those strikeout numbers will likely be the difference between him being a mid-rotation starter or possibly becoming something more.

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Morton Fires Shutout at Wriglies

Turn about is fair play. At least that’s what they say. After being held to zero runs by Ryan Dempster on Tuesday night, Charlie Morton threw his first career shutout against the Cubs in the first game of a double header on Wednesday.

Morton allowed just four singles and three walks. He struck out a career best eight hitters. Ryan Theriot collected three of Chicago’s hits.

On the other side, Ted Lilly was troubled by a four run first. The Pirates collected three hits in the first and just three more thereafter. The outburst was triggered in part by Lastings Milledge aggressively breaking up a double play grounder that allowed Steve Pearce to be safe at first and scored a run. Jason Jaramillo followed with a two run, two out double for the second and third tallies. Brian Bixler’s single scored Jaramillo for the final run of the game.

Lilly struck out 8 in seven innings. He allowed five hits.

The Good

Morton’s effort.

Milledge going hard into second.

The Bad

Bucs whiffed 11 times overall.

The Rest

Morton’s previous career mark for whiffs was six, last accomplished 8/27/09 against Philadelphia. He had never pitched past the 7th inning before. He needed 119 pitches to complete the game. His previous high for pitches chucked in one game was 111, which he did in a six inning start for Atlanta last August.

This was Jaramillo’s first two RBI game since 8/31/09 against the Reds. Brian Bixler’s RBI was his first since April 26.

This was the 27th time the Pirates have struck out 10 or more times. Arizona leads the Show with 53 such games.

Reds Sweep Pirates Behind Arroyo, Votto

It was one bad inning that did in Charlie Morton. That inning was the third and the Red scored four times and collected four of their seven hits for the game. Joey Votto’s two run double did the most damage.

Morton allowed just two other hits in his seven innings of toil. But the Pirates managed only a solo jack from Lastings Milledge off of Bronson Arroyo. The ex-Bucco also lasted seven, scattering five hits and whiffing four.

The Pirates put three runners on against Francisco Cordero in the 9th, but were unable to score.

The Good

Nothing. Maybe Morton wasn’t so bad other than that one inning.

Three double plays from the defense, including an OF assist from Brandon Moss.

The Bad

The continuing saga of the pathetic offense.

The Rest

Welcome G20 summit attendees and protesters!

Arroyo moves to 4-3 in his career against Pittsburgh. He picked up his second win of 2009 with no defeats against the Pirates. This was Arroyo’s 76th win since being let go by the Pirates.

Only four pitchers have logged 200 or more innings in each of the past five years – Arroyo, Mark Buehrle, Danny Haren and Javier Vazquez. As it stand right now, the Pirates have amassed just four such pitcher seasons over the same period. I don’t want to go out on a limb, but I think it was officiallly a mistake to let him walk.

After hitting 14 homers in 587 ABs in 2008, Milledge has just three in 179 ABs in 2009.

 

 

 

 

Morton Pitches Pittsburgh Past Padres

Charlie Morton allowed a first inning run and then no more over seven strong innings. He gave up six hits (four in the first two innings) and just one free pass, while striking out four.

The Pirates battled back early off of a wild Tim Stauffer. With the aid of four walks and a pair of triples, the Pirates scored three times in the first and never looked back. Brandon Moss’ two run triple was the big hit.

After that it was Morton. Stauffer was pulled after three, allowing the three runs on four hits and four walks. Jesse Chavez and Matt Capps each tossed a scoreless inning to end it.

The Good

Getting a win.

Morton’s outing

The Bad

Wow. Nothing.

The Rest

This was Morton’s first win since August 21 against Pittsburgh. In his next start, he was clobbered for 10 runs against the Cubs. This was his best start since he threw seven shutout innings against San Francisco in July.

Brandon Moss is statistically at least, having an awful year for a corner outfielder. Looking back at Pirate players that had 350 or more plate appearances and failed to drive in 40 runs, you have a collection of lead off hitters and middle infielders. Other than Andy Van Slyke’s disastrous final season in Pittsburgh, the list is populated with names like Jose Castillo, Abraham Nunez, Lou Collier, Mike Benjamin, Jacob Brumfield.

Bucs Swoon Continues as Astros Pull Away

The Astros broke open a close game with six runs in the seventh inning as Pittsburgh’s conclusion to the baseball season gets uglier.

Charlie Morton pitched well enough – three earned runs in six innings.  But the offense struggled against rookie Bud Norris. He allowed just one run on six hits and seven whiffs in six innings.

The Astros big inning came at the expense of Joel Hanrahan and Jesse Chavez. The largest damage was a two out three run tater from Carlos Lee, which came on the heels of an error from Ryan Doumit during a rundown.

The Bucs lone run was a solo dinger from Andy LaRoche.

The Good

The season is almost over.

The Bad

All the losing.

The Rest

Is it possble that Jesse Chavez is out of gas? All three runs he let up were unearned, but his second half ERA is 6.00 in 21 IP after a 3.19 ERA in 36-2/3 IP in the first half.

This was Norris’ first career appearance against Houston.

This was Morton’s best appearance in his career against the Astros. Previously he allowed 11 earned runs over 10 innings in two starts. Morton posted an ERA way too close to 7.00 over his previous eight starts.

Reds Rip Bucs, Morton

Not much to say about this and not much time to say it. Red catcher Craig Tatum came into this series hitting .106 on the year. He had two hits and four RBI. Charlie Morton gave up nine hits, four walks and six runs in five innings. The bullpen wasn’t much better allowing the Reds to pull away with five runs combined in the sixth and seventh innings.

Garrett Jones hit a two run homer to highlight the Pirates offense.

Rookie Justin Leher garnered the win, tossing six innings of four run baseball. Each of the Reds starting 8 had a hit and either scored a run in knocked on in.

The Good

Jones had two hits.

Lastings Milledge continues to swing a hot bat with two more hits.

The Bad

Wow – losing three straight in Cincy.

The Rest

Milledge is hitting .391 in his last 14 games.

Coming into the game Morton was 1-4 in his last seven starts with a 6.43 ERA.

Jones Beats Happ, Phils with 8th Inning Dinger

The Pirates took two of three from Philadelphia thanks to some late game heroics from Garret Jones. Trailing 2-1 in the 8th, the Pirates had been manhandled by Philadelphia rookie J.A. Happ. Pinch hitter Ronny Cedeno singled leading off, but Happ retired the next two hitters without incident. Jones followed with a two run homer to put the Pirates up 3-2. Matt Capps closed the victory.

Through the first seven innings, Happ had allowed just five hits. One of those was Andrew McCutchen’s solo homer in the first inning. Cutch’s drive tied the score at one each as Bucs starter Charlie Morton loaded the bases with none out in the first, but managed to escape with only one run allowed.

Morton yielded a solo homer to Paul Bako in the second and the score stayed that way until the 8th. Happ tossed a complete game in a losing effort and gave up all three Pirate runs. Morton went six and gave up both Phillie runs on five hits. He struck out six. Denny Bautista tossed two perfect innings and got the win in relief.

The Good

Taking two of three from the division leaders.

Happy with Morton’s outing.

Jones

The Bad

The team continues to struggle to draw walks, picking up just two.

The Rest

The Pirates have drawn the third fewest walks in the NL, leading only Houston and San Fran.

Jones has five homers in August after hitting 10 in July.

Happ beat the Pirates in his only other start against them on July 12.

Morton’s only other appearance against Philadelphia was a debacle. He lasted two innings in a loss while pitching for Atlanta 7/1/08.

Andy LaRoche hit cleanup for the 7th time in August. He is just 4-25 out of that spot with one XBH and two RBI.

The most impressive number of the day was the 85 that Ross Van Burkleo posted in the slop at the Oak Brook Park Marriott Resort golf course.