| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Stats Corner: Morton finally taming lefty batters

Pirates/MLB Videos

By David Golebiewski
Saturday, July 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

When Charlie Morton unleashed his turbo sinker on the National League several years ago, he became tough on right-handed batters — and a punching bag for lefties. The Pirates starter limited righties to a .605 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) from 2011-13, fifth-lowest among right-handed starters facing at least 500 same-side batters over that time frame. But left-handers pummeled him for an .885 OPS, third-highest among right-handed starters.

Morton is still suffocating righties in 2014 (a .664 opponent OPS entering his start Saturday), but he's also exacting revenge on left-handers. He's holding them to a .617 OPS, a mark bested only by NL right-handers Johnny Cueto (.542), Julio Teheran (.575), Tyson Ross (.592), Adam Wainwright (.594), Tom Koehler (.606) and Stephen Strasburg (.615).

With a full year of pitching under his belt since returning from Tommy John surgery, Morton is hitting his spots much more often versus lefties.

Right on spot

Here is Morton's strike percentage against left-handed batters

Pitch 2013 2014

Sinker 62.8 64.0

Curveball 55.1 67.2

Changeup 48.3 54.5

Source: Texas Leaguers

Lefties are taking lots of cuts against Morton's curve. But the approach isn't paying off: left-handed hitters are a combined 7 for 62 (.113) versus the pitch.

Few right-handed Pirates starters have ever shut down lefties like Morton is in 2014. Steve Blass (.560 OPS in '70), Tim Wakefield (.564 in '92), Don Robinson (.592 in '78), Rick Rueschel (.594 in '85), Rick Rhoden (.596 in '86), Dock Ellis (.611 in '71), Gerrit Cole (.611 in '13) and Doug Drabek (.616 in '88) are the only righties in Bucs history to post a lower single-season OPS versus left-handed batters (minimum 200 faced).

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
  2. Pirates find a bridge at end of baseball world in Holdzkom
  3. Monday’s scouting report: Pirates at Braves
  4. Pirates, Worley edge Brewers, 1-0, move to cusp of playoffs
  5. Rossi: The series that will define these Pirates
  6. Pirates analyst Kent Tekulve recovering after heart transplant
  7. Pirates notebook: Worley raring to go after skipping last start
  8. Tuesday’s scouting report: Red Sox at Pirates
  9. Wednesday’s scouting report: Red Sox at Pirates
  10. Pirates hit 3 HRs in rout of Red Sox
  11. New approach on offense has Pirates in playoff contention this season
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.