I’ve spent much of my focus on Francisco Liriano’s slow start to 2014, but the honest truth is that Charlie Morton is pretty close behind him in terms of frustration. It seemed like Morton was poised to take a big step forward in 2014 by combining his ground ball tendencies, his post-TJS velocity, and a split-change to use against left-handed hitters. Instead, Morton’s velocity is down, his change-up has been almost non-existent, and hitters are having an easier time getting the ball up in the air against him.
Morton needed a few starts to really get into a groove last year, so we can give him the same benefit of the doubt for now. I’d feel much better about things if he were to turn in a start reminiscent of last year’s Charlie Morton, though. Obviously this is a dicey proposition against the Reds, since Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are the exact sort of hitters that give Morton the most trouble.
Alfredo Simon starts for the Reds tonight. He’s 33 and has spent most of his career as a reliever, but he’s been hugely successful as a starter this year. Three starts are just three starts, though, so hopefully the Pirates can start to put some cracks in his facade.
Changing topics quickly, Clint Hurdle answered some questions from David Manel about moving Andrew McCutchen from the three-spot to avoid the “no on, two out” situation that he’s hit in quite a bit this year. The discussion and Hurdle’s response to the question are both pretty interesting, so check it out.
Finally, the game should be on the MLB Network tonight if you live in the MLB-defined “Pirate market” since ROOT has the rights to first-round Penguin playoff games. We’ll almost certainly be stuck with Reds’ announcers, though, which is unfortunate. First pitch is at 7:05.