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Tampa Bay Rays: It all comes down to Charlie Morton

By David Hill
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 12: Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the third inning in Game Two of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 12, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 12: Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the third inning in Game Two of the American League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 12, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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It is fitting that, if the Tampa Bay Rays are going to escape the Houston Astros, it will be with Charlie Morton on the mound.

If the Tampa Bay Rays are going to advance to the World Series, it is only fitting that Charlie Morton will get the start.

After all, it had been the Houston Astros who unlocked Morton’s potential, turning a middling starting pitcher into an All Star. Morton embraced the Astros’ focus on spin rate, turning into a dominant force on the mound. In his two years in Houston, he posted a 29-10 record with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.176 WHiP, striking out 364 batters with 114 walks over his 313.2 innings.

The Rays took a bit of a gamble that Morton would be able to continue that success outside of Houston. He was signed to a two year contract worth $30 million, including an option for 2021. To this point, he has been worth that deal, posting a 3.33 ERA and a 1.135 WHiP in his time in Tampa Bay. Over his 232.2 innings, he has struck out 282 batters with just 67 walks.

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Morton has also been excellent for the Rays in the 2020 postseason. He has allowed just two runs, one earned, in his ten innings heading into Saturday’s game, on just nine hits and three walks, striking out 11 batters. He had shut down the Astros as well, firing five shutout innings to earn the victory in Game Two.

The Rays need that type of performance once again from Morton. Their season is on the line and it is up to him to turn the tides. What had seemed to be an inevitability is now in question, with the Astros having stormed all the way back to force Game Seven.

But it is also fitting that Morton will have this opportunity. He has a chance to eliminate the team that essentially turned him into the pitcher he is now, sending the Rays to the World Series. Frankly, if it was going to come down to any pitcher, the storybook that has been Morton’s last four years almost demands that the ball is in his hands.

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Charlie Morton has a chance to put the Tampa Bay Rays into the World Series. It is only fitting that he had the ball Saturday night.

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