We really haven’t burned enough virtual ink talking about how great Houston Astros Starting Pitcher Charlie Morton has been this season.
And so, a mere hour before his scheduled start in Game 4 of the American League Division Series versus Rick Porcello and the Boston Red Sox, here are some quick factoids for your digestion.
- The Astros signed Morton as a free agent to a $14M 2-year contract prior to the 2017 season, after having only pitched 17 innings for the Phillies in 2016.
- During those 17 innings, Morton showed an increased strikeout rate and lower FIP than at any point of his career. Small sample size? The Astros obviously thought not.
- Many fans dismissed the move as similar to the acquisition of Doug Fister the year prior. An injury-prone guy who might help a bit at the end of the rotation. I took the opposite stance. “I love this signing.” —Me (Morton talk starts at around 38:00). I was right. Again. “There is reason to think that he might be a really solid, really strong even, number three starting pitcher for the 2017 Astros.” —Me, again.
- By every objective measure except health, Morton could successfully be argued as a MLB Top 20 starting pitcher during 2017.
- Morton’s 10.00 K/9 would rank him #13 in MLB if he qualified, tied with Indians’ co-ace Trevor Bauer and ahead of mid-season trade target Jose Quintana.
- Morton’s K-BB% of 18.3 would also rank him between Quintana and Bauer, and would put him #18 in MLB if he qualified.
- Over a full 200 IP season, Morton’s WAR would pro-rate to 4.5 WAR, placing him at #12 in MLB, sandwiched between Rays ace Chris Archer and Mets co-ace Jacob deGrom.
- In only 147 innings pitched, Morton’s 3.3 WAR still would rank him in the Top 20 of qualified major league starters, just behind Toronto’s ace Marcus Stroman and sharing the #19 spot with Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez and Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez. And for the record, Stroman, Martinez, and Gonzalez all pitched over 200 innings this season.
There you have it. Without hyperbole, the Astros #4 playoff starting pitcher has quietly been one of the best starting pitchers in the major leagues this season, and laud for his acquisition has gone largely unheralded by local and national media due to the larger narrative of the Astros’ successes, addition of Justin Verlander, and Jose Altuve’s MVP candidacy.
Charlie Morton would be the best pitcher, or at worst a good Number Two (no poop jokes, please) on most major league baseball staffs. That he generally has been considered the 4th or 5th guy in Houston speaks to the Astros’ ability to build a deep but star-laden roster.