If you followed a lot of baseball in the 1980s, the name Bret Saberhagen should ring a bell immediately.
For those who need a history lesson, read on.
Saberhagen was the ace pitcher on a Kansas City Royals team that was more successful than not throughout the decade. The team even won a World Series in 1985 and remained at or near the top of the American League West throughout most of the 1980s.
Although Saberhagen was a great pitcher, he had a maddening habit. It is the same trait we currently see in Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton.
Saberhagen won two Cy Young awards in 1985 and 1989, and he won 20 games both seasons. Odd-numbered years were great years for Saberhagen, but even-numbered seasons were less than perfect. In fact, he was 7-12 in 1986 and 5-9 in 1990, the years after he won the Cy Young awards.
Even-numbered years have been awful for Morton this decade, including a 2-12 mark in 2010 and a 2-6 record in 2012. This year Morton dropped seven of his first eight decisions despite a decent 3.29 ERA. On Monday he put it all together for nine strikeouts in five innings of work and left the game with a 3-2 lead over the San Diego Padres.
Morton likely won’t ever approach the levels Saberhagen did in his over 15-year career in the big leagues, but it is kind of funny how alternating years haven’t been kind to Morton.
Monday’s performance looked better than some of his previous outings this season, when he dropped four straight decisions to start the 2014 campaign. The fact is Morton still has a 2-7 record is largely thanks to anemic Pirates bats and the general lethargy the team had to start the first two months of the season.
When Morton is good, results like Monday happen. When Morton is bad, well, you know the rest.