Has Charlie Morton Won the 5th Starter Job?

Has Morton already won the 5th starter role?

Coming in to the Spring, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a battle for the 5th starter role between Charlie Morton, Scott Olsen, and Brad Lincoln.  The battle was largely seen to be between Morton and Olsen, with Lincoln destined to return to AAA to work on his changeup.

About a month ago, Scott Olsen went down with a hamstring injury, and while he’s currently rehabbing, he has yet to pitch an inning in Spring Training.  Meanwhile, Charlie Morton has pitched three times, combining for eight innings.  In those eight innings, Morton has a 2.25 ERA, and a 3:1 K/BB ratio.

Spring Training stats largely don’t matter, mostly because they are a small sample size, but also because different players face different levels of talent.  Morton has been starting games, which puts him up against the better talent, but it’s still a small sample size.  There has been talk about how Morton has returned to throwing his sinker, which was the explanation for his struggles last year.

Ignoring the stats, and ignoring the analysis on the sinker, the fact is that Morton has actually pitched this year, while Olsen has yet to throw in a game.  There’s a little less than three weeks remaining in Spring Training.  Even if Olsen returned tomorrow, he could maybe make 3-4 starts, getting about 8-10 innings.  That’s not nearly enough to be ready to start the season in the rotation.

Nothing has been officially announced, but at this point it would be hard to imagine anyone other than Morton in the fifth spot in the rotation.  Olsen still has enough time to make the majors as a bullpen arm, although that could cause some potential problems.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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