First Pitch: It’s Time to Swap Out Vance Worley For Charlie Morton

Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates got a big boost from Vance Worley in the second half of the season. The right-hander looked strong, showing good control, and posting numbers similar to what he put up in 2010-11, prior to his injury in 2012. The success from Worley really helped late in the season when Charlie Morton started to struggle due to his hip.

One year later, it looks like those roles could be reversed. Worley has been struggling this year. His strikeout rate and ground ball rate are both down. His walk rate has almost doubled from last year. He’s allowing hard hit contact at one of the highest rates in the majors, and soft hit contact at one of the lowest rates. He has gone from 15.8% soft hit rate to 9.4%, and 27.4% to 36.8% on hard hit contact.

In short, all of the things that made Worley such a big success last year aren’t showing up this year, for whatever reason.

Morton had a good first half last year, posting a 3.32 ERA in 119.1 innings. Things fell apart in the second half, with a 4.97 ERA in 38 innings, before he was shut down for the season with his hip injury.

The Pirates got Morton back from Tommy John surgery in 2013, and he was fantastic down the stretch. He carried that over to the 2014 season before his latest injury. After the injury led to his mechanics being derailed in Spring Training, he worked on getting back to what was working in 2013.

So far in all of his rehab work, the results have been encouraging. I don’t want to say that Morton is completely back to his 2013 self, but he’s much closer to that than where he was in Spring Training this year. He made a start tonight with Indianapolis, on the same day that Worley made a start for Pittsburgh. That might not be a coincidence.

The Pirates could opt for one more rehab start from Morton, but it wouldn’t make much sense. Worley isn’t looking anything at all like the successful pitcher he was in 2014, and Morton is looking similar to the pitcher that had so much success two years ago, and for the first half of last year. This is an upgrade the Pirates need, and they need it sooner rather than later.

**Charlie Morton Strong in Rehab Appearance. Live report from Ryan Palencer.

**Prospect Watch: Morton Starts For Indianapolis, Five Hits For Austin Meadows

**Video and Analysis From Jameson Taillonโ€™s Rehab Start. My live report from Clearwater today, along with an analysis of Taillon’s mechanics.

**Luis Heredia to Join the Marauders Tomorrow, Featuring an Old Look. It looks like he will be starting on Saturday. I’ll have live coverage from the game, along with coverage from Jayson Aquino’s debut tomorrow night.

**Clay Holmes is Getting Close to a Full Return From Tommy John. Speaking of guys returning to Bradenton, Holmes could be there in less than a month.

**Pirates Sign Catcher From Netherlands

**Morning Report: The Last Resort Position Switch


  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    May 15, 2015 11:08 pm

    Its time to also replace Locke with Sampson or Sadler….our #4 and #5 starters are awful.

  • jamminjoe66
    May 15, 2015 12:33 pm

    Forget about the #’s. I was a big fan of Worley last year. This year he looks horrible. The old eye test is all I need. He looks nothing like last year.

  • I am not a Charlie fan, but I am all for this move.

    As for Locke, his FIP is 3.77. You just don’t replace that with a AAA kid (or….heaven help us….Clayton Richard, career FIP of 4.44).

  • Worely is not locating his slider (or cutter) in the bottom have of the zone, and he is losing strikes as a result. That is the only real difference between this season and last. If the Pirates thought Locke was better than Worely, a 150 batters faced this season shouldn’t change that.

  • Maybe the much discussed pitching mantra did not last with Worley. I really thought that Locke would of been the odd man out after the first two weeks of the season. Also it would really be nice if Richard/Sampson worked out as pieces to the mix. I had a dream last night that AJ and Sean Rodriquez went down on the same play. I really need to stop watching Pirate replays and watch Blacklist.

    • Blacklist is amazing. Also I wanted no part of that replay. Why would you do that to yourself When Harang dominated them?

      • The Pirates dominated themselves. They have a habit of making mediocre pitchers look great.

        Harang threw 69 of 112 pitches outside the zone, and the Bucs swung and missed at 16% of them. Most other teams only swung at 5-6% of Harang’s pitches outside the zone.

  • Bring Morton up to start. Move Worley to pen as long man. DFA Liz. Let it be written, let it be done.

    • I didn’t sway your opinion, did I? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • The Pirates typically love to hold on to assets so my guess is Cahill goes down when Worley goes to long relief. That being said Liz really hasn’t impressed me that much. Was he brought in as a starter or was he supposed to be stretched out eventually?

      • when did we acquire Trevor Cahill?

        ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Scott Kliesen
        May 16, 2015 9:13 am

        Do you think Liz gets picked up by another team if they DFA him? My impression is he’s a dumpster fire waiting to happen in any type of high leverage situation.

    • Scott: I think Worley needs to get some work at AAA as a SP, because I think he will be up again this season. Liz has an ERA almost a run lower than our Closer, and an average against lower than Melancon and about 40 points lower than Hughes. I am not saying I am against his leaving, but we have some major issues in the BP, and they do not begin and end with Liz. The hitting is getting better, the Rotation should get stronger, but the BP?

    • I would rather keep Liz and DFA Fat Bastardo myself.

      Liz is what he is: Jeanmar’s replacement, who can eat valuable innings like he did yesterday.

      • He can eat useless innings is what you mean, in valuable innings he is far from a useful option. Not that he is terrible, but he certainly isnt a guy you give the ball needing 2+ innings and minimal runs.

  • On a bit of a different note, methinks it’s time for the scheduled days off to end at least until the pirates find some consistency. Ballplayers are creatures of habit and it’s hard to find continuity when the lineup changes on a daily basis. And no I’m not saying playem till they drop all I’m saying is it takes a little time for a lineup to gel and it’s a lot harder when you don’t know who your playing with or if your even playing yourself that day. I know the pirates think they have this all figured out but guess what it ain’t workin’.

  • I hate to say it but tim’s right, shirley worley’s boy is just not getting it done. Might as well give morton a shot he can’t be any worse. One thru three in the rotation give an above average chance to win, four and five give a below average chance to win, not exactly good odds for a supposed contender to go on. I do have to say that locke is doing better than I expected him to, not great but still a bit of a surprise, let’s just hope he keeps it up. For the pirates to have a chance it’s time to fish or cut bait.

  • Buddy Turney
    May 15, 2015 2:00 am

    We have two off days next week, just skip Worley’s turn in the rotation and give Morton another rehab start.

    • Buddy: An excellent point. Now that our SP’s have worked themselves into a schedule routine, it would not make sense to throw them all off for the benefit of one. If Worley is skipped, we could do the weekend series with the Mets with Cole on Friday, Burnett on Sat, and then Liriano to finish the series. Then on Monday against the Marlins we could insert Morton in the Rotation between Liriano and Locke.

      I would send Worley down now, bring Morton up, or we could possibly get another bench guy up short term, and then bring Charlie up on the 24th.

      • Worley has no options remaining. The only guy who could be sent down is Scahill who has been pitching well.

  • I don’t disagree…and I’ve also gotta wonder how long it will be before the calls of replace Locke with Richard/Sampson begin.

    • If Sampson keeps throwing thr baseball the way he is you have to give the kid a shot, Locke has been almost as bad as Worley, despite his left handedness.

      • Backup QB syndrome. You don’t just ditch guys with 3.70 and 3.77 FIPs.

        • “Wonder why leefoo didn’t use the more predictive metric, xFIP?”

          *checks xFIP, notices Worley’s is at 4.61*

          “Oh, that’s why.”

        • Not ditching. Locke and worley are serviceable 5s in the majors and will both deliver quality starts for the pirates before the year is over. I think it’s a certainty chuck replaces vance and it’s no question it’s an upgrade, despite chucks inconsistency. Sampson can’t do much more in AAA and deserves a shot. He may do worse, but he could do better than Locke. Send them both to the pen and see how they perform. Maybe one turns into a Watson, the other eats innings till am injury. We could DFA the bastard and Liz, Locke and vance have both had exponentially greater than each of them in he majors. Worst case chuck and Sampson/richard stink and we are where we are now

        • check your stats

    • I completely agree
      I think Sadler is also an upgrade over Locke.
      Locke is good with loooong rest
      He seems to tire easily after only a few consecutive starts