Astros place Morton on DL ahead of series vs. Angels

HOUSTON — Having already evaluated both his workload over the course of this season and the declining effectiveness of Charlie Morton during the past month, the Houston Astros placed the veteran right-hander on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder discomfort on Wednesday.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch had previously announced plans to bypass Morton in the rotation this weekend against the Los Angeles Angels, whom the Astros will host for a four-game set beginning on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.

Right-hander Justin Verlander (13-8, 2.72 ERA) will start the series opener against the Angels for Houston (82-51). He has won consecutive starts, including an 8-3 road victory over the Angels on Aug. 25 when he allowed three runs on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings.

Verlander is 12-8 with a 3.05 ERA over 23 career starts against Los Angeles, including 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA over four starts this season. In his lone home start against the Angels this season, Verlander allowed two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts in a 5-2 win on April 25.

Left-hander Andrew Heaney (7-8, 4.25 ERA) will get the start for the Angels on Thursday. Heaney suffered the loss against Houston in his prior start, allowing five runs on eight hits and one walk with five strikeouts over six innings in a 9-3 setback.

He is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA over three starts against Houston in 2018 and 2-1 with a 2.32 ERA against the Astros in his career.

The Angels (64-69) have dropped nine of 11 games and were swept at home last weekend by Houston.

Morton, meanwhile, pitched on extra rest on Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics yet allowed three runs on three hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. It marked only the fourth time in 26 starts this season that Morton failed to last five innings.

Morton (13-3, 3.14 ERA) has logged 152 innings this season, the third-highest output of his career and closing fast on the 171 2/3 innings he pitched in 2011. He also set career highs in starts (29) and batters faced (769) that season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, numbers he will approach or surpass following his reinstatement.

Morton posted a 4.23 ERA in August, his highest for any month this season while working 27 2/3 innings, his lightest workload for any month in 2018. His strikeouts per nine innings were relatively static over the first four months, ranging between 11.0 and 11.9. In August, Morton averaged just 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

“The more we thought about it the more we felt like a clean DL stint for him, even though it’s going to be minimal, was the right thing to do and push him all the way back to the 10 days,” Hinch said. “There was a consideration that we were going to come every day and see if we wanted to insert him back into the rotation with the way the schedule is playing out, the off day before the Red Sox series (next weekend in Boston); the 10 days takes us up to that series. Our hope and expectation quite frankly is that he will be back in that series.”