Pittsburgh Pirates: Charlie Morton’s Spring Performances A Precursor To Success In 2014 MLB Season?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For many players, success during Spring Training doesn’t necessarily translate into success during the regular season, but that may be a different story for Charlie Morton. In looking at Morton’s career Spring Training numbers and comparing them to the corresponding regular season, a trend begins to become apparent where his regular season numbers seem to mirror his Spring Training numbers quite closely.

A better way to say it is that Morton’s Spring numbers are generally the best you will see all season, with the regular season varying slightly.

Since he missed the 2013 Spring Training recovering from Tommy John surgery, we have to look back starting with 2012. In 2012, Morton posted a Spring Training ERA of 7.07 in 14 innings. For the corresponding regular season, Morton improved to a 4.65 ERA which is equally disappointing. 2011 was his best Spring to date, with him posting a 2.63 ERA across 24 innings of work.

His regular season ERA for that year was also quite good for the standards of the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates at 3.83. 2010 was awful all around with a 4.38 ERA in Spring Training and a horrendous 7.57 ERA in the regular season, which earned him a demotion to triple-A Indianapolis. Say what you want about Morton, but he is consistent — consistently bad or consistently not so bad — between Spring Training and the regular season.

So far this Spring, Morton has appeared in two games, throwing five shutout innings of one-hit baseball. He’s not missing a ton of bats with only one strike-out, but he’s inducing quite a few ground balls with a GO/AO ratio of 1.60. If Morton can continue his excellent performance this spring, statistics would have you believe that he could carry this success into the regular season.

This is going to be a defining season for Morton. The team’s success is largely going to be more dependent upon Morton’s success with the offseason departure of A.J. Burnett. Morton gets the No. 3 spot in the rotation and he’s going to have to play like he deserves that spot. There can be no more excuses or people saying the famous “but he has plus stuff” line. This is it. It’s Morton’s year to shine. I just hope he can rise to the occasion and handle the pressure.

Vinny Gala is a Pittsburgh Pirates writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.

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