Charlie Morton has moved on from the Phillies, and will sign with Houston
The forgotten member of the Phillies rotation has officially traded his pinstripes for cowboy boots. Veteran starter Charlie Morton signed a two-year contract with the Houston Astros, and is set to become a key to their rotation.
Morton missed the majority of his sole season in Philadelphia after tearing his hamstring early in the year. Morton has undergone four surgeries in the past five years, which makes the two-year contract surprising.
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In four starts for the Phillies, Morton sported a 4.15 ERA with 19 strikeouts in just-over 21 innings of work. The 33-year-old tore his left hamstring during a series in Milwaukee after attempting to run out a sacrifice bunt that turned into a double play.
General Manager Matt Klentak declined the club-option in Morton’s contract earlier this month, but did not initially rule out re-signing Morton. With Jeremy Hellickson surprisingly accepting the Phillies qualifying offer, there was no need for a pitcher such as Morton on Philadelphia’s staff.
An advantage of Houston signing Morton is the rate at which his pitches produce ground-balls. which is second in baseball behind Dallas Keuchel.
Morton joins a pitching staff that saw no starter produce an ERA under 3.20, and saw four produce ERA’s over 4.30. He will stabilize a staff headed by Keuchel, Collin McHugh, and Mike Fiers.
Houston signing Morton likely signals the end of Doug Fister’s tenure with the Astros after just one season.
Philadelphia’s starting rotation appears to be set if everyone reports to spring training healthy. Currently you can expect Hellickson, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez to each get the ball every five days.
With Nola and Eflin recovering from mid-season injuries, Adam Morgan, Alec Asher, Jake Thompson, and Ben Lively could compete for a job.
Fans can still expect the organization to add veteran depth through minor league contracts. Veteran free agents such as Kyle Kendrick, Jair Jurrgens, or Bronson Arroyo could be invited to spring training and eventually land in Lehigh Valley as depth options.