I’ll tell you what. Charlie Morton has had one hell of a career. The majority of his career, up until about 2017 was littered with underwhelming years with low strikeout totals. Then, he heads to Houston, and at the ripe age of 33, he posts a 26.4 percent strikeout rate and wins 14 games with a 3.62 ERA. The next year, he improves his strikeout rate, wins 15 games, and posts a career-best 3.13 ERA. Again, except this time in Tampa Bay, he set career bests in strikeout rate (30.4%), wins (16) and earned run average (3.05), among others.

Talk about a late career breakout! The 2020 season wasn’t the best for Morton, but a lot of factors went into play, like a shortened and delayed season. In a recent article written by Mark Bowman, Morton discussed some struggles from the 2020 season.

Morton admitted he never got going last year, and didn’t feel great. The veteran right-hander also spent time on IL last year (nearly a month) for shoulder inflammation. However, the encouraging part is that when you look at his pitch velocities by month, it increased each month as the year progressed. So, it corroborates Morton’s sentiments, and his story checks out.

To double down on what he said, and why there shouldn’t be much concern with Morton’s velocity heading into 2021, his velocity has looked good this spring, and he himself has said he’s felt good. All in all, we’re good here in this department.

However, there are two areas that need addressed. His launch angle rose a bit, and the 2020 season was the first time in his entire career that he posted a ground ball rate below 46 percent. His 2020 mark was just 41.5 percent. Yikes. Morton’s arsenal, highlighted by a sinking fastball is a ground ball cheat code, but the other pitches didn’t follow suit. However, as the year progressed and his velocity ticked back up, the ground ball rate returned.









Courtesy of FanGraphs

His strikeout rate took a bit of a hit, and simply because he didn’t induce as many whiffs and he allowed more contact in general. Furthermore, his best pitch, his curveball wasn’t as effective in the 2020 season. You’ll see from the table below that his curveball took a pretty big step back, and the swings and misses just weren’t there for his bread and butter.


Run Value

Whiff Rate

Hard Hit Rate

















Courtesy of Baseball Savant

In 2019, his curveball was a top 10 pitch in all of baseball, and in 2020, it wasn’t good at all. Typically, it’s not very good when your whiff rate on a pitch is lower than the hard hit rate, especially when in recent seasons, the whiff rate mark was double the hard hit rate. In 2021, this pitch should bounce back.

For the most part, his 2020 season seems to be a blip on the radar that, more or less, evened itself out as the year went on. The strikeouts returned in the postseason, and while his ground ball rate was still a bit down, it was better than the early parts of the season.

Following successful stints with the Astros and Rays, Morton took a deal to head back to the National League to join the Atlanta Braves’ rotation, where he can avoid the designated hitter in the majority of his starts. This is the first time that Morton will don a National League uniform since 2016 when he was a member of the Phillies for all of 17.1 innings pitched. Additionally, it will be the second time he will toe the rubber as a member of the Braves. He logged a 6.15 ERA across 74.2 innings of work back in 2008, amassing a 4-8 record.

The shoulder issue from last year is a non-factor and has been dispelled by returning to top form last year, and velocity being good here in spring training. He should win double-digit games with an ERA in the mid-3s, and get back to a strikeout rate somewhere right around 28 percent. As the 43rd pitcher (35th starter) off the board, per NFBC data, he’s an excellent target as your fantasy team’s third starter. He should perform well enough to be classified as an SP2 by season’s end, giving you great value out of your third arm.


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