Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Will a New Pitch Make a Difference for Charlie Morton?

Inability to neutralize left-handed batters has been a problem that has plagued Charlie Morton his entire career. This Spring Training Charlie has been toying with a new pitch, the split-change, that he hopes will solve the problem. I’m skeptical this pitch will have the desired effect.
I do not believe Ground Chuck’s issues with left-handed hitters stems from lacking a quality offspeed pitch. What Charlie really needs is something he can use to back them off of his sinker. He lacks command of a quality pitch to work inside on lefties. A split-change is not that pitch. He has tried to mark his territory on the inner half the plate. Last year he led the league with 16 hit batsmen, 13 of which were against left-handed batters.
Morton has often been compared to Roy Halladay due to the similarities of their deliveries. Halladay also developed a split-change later in his career, so Morton adopting the pitch provides another point of comparison to the future Hall Of Famer. However, it wasn’t the split-change that made the difference for Halladay against lefties. The addition of the split-change in Halladay’s repertoire coincided with a high volume of cutters. In some years it was as high as 40%. Halladay would bust the cutter in on the hands of left-handed hitters, and then get them to flail at the split-change tailing away. I just don’t see a pitch in Morton’s repertoire that will force left-handed hitters to worry about the inner portion of the plate. Morton experimented with a cutter in 2012, but appears to have scrapped it. I do not think it is a coincidence that he held lefties to a .740 OPS that season, the best number of his career. This is not to say that the split-change won’t be a good edition to Morton’s arsenal. A quality pitch is a quality pitch. But if Ground Chuck is going to truly solve southpaw bats he’ll have to do it by continuing to work on the inner half of the plate.

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