Tampa Bay Rays: Top 8 Candidates for 2020 Rotation

Blake Snell (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Blake Snell (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Charlie Morton (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

2. Charlie Morton

Charlie Morton finished last season as third in the American League Cy Young voting. He finished behind two Houston Astros, Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander.

Morton went 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA and 240 Ks in 194.67 innings last season.

Uncle Charlie relied heavily on his curveball last season, throwing it 37.3% of the time. Rightly so, as he ranked in the 95th percentile in the league in spin rate on the curveball.

Here are a few categories in which Morton ranked inside the top ten in Major League Baseball.

Home Runs Per Nine (1st in MLB)
Adjusted ERA+ (10th in MLB)
FIP (4th in MLB)
Strikeouts Per Nine (9th in MLB)
Fewest Hits Per Nine (10th in MLB)
Wins (T-8th in MLB)
Games Started (T-8th in MLB)
Situational Wins Saved (6th in MLB)

Morton was tied for 15th in the Major Leagues in quality starts with 19 outings of at least six innings and three or fewer earned runs.

Morton is entering the second year of two-year, $30 million contract. He has stated that he expects this to be his last contract. We are likely looking at Morton’s final major-league season unless he changes his mind.

Morton was worth 5.0 rWAR last season but he did fade a little in the second half of 2019.

He finished the first half of last season with a 2.32 ERA and 142 Ks in 112.2 innings pitched. Opponents only hit .196/.271/.314 against him in the first half. In the second half, he registered a 4.06 ERA with a .239/.298/.375 slash. Morton struck out 98 batters in his 82.0 second-half innings.

Clearly worse numbers, but still not terrible. The Rays may try and manage his workload a little more this year to ensure he stays fresh for a late-season run. If this is Morton’s swan-song, hopefully, it ends with a deep post-season run.