Charlie Morton: The unsung hero of Tampa

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Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton walks off the mound after being relieved during the sixth inning in Game 7 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

When I wrote my article about the Tampa Bay Rays, I knew what this team could and would accomplish throughout this 2020 MLB postseason. Domination was demonstrated as they fought through tough series with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. With an amazing pitching rotation and some underrated stars, how could you not? However, what I did not expect to occur was the dominance of one 36-year-old former all-star from Flemington, New Jersey. That man is former World Series champion, Charlie Morton.  

When the Rays entered the postseason as the second-best team in baseball, Morton himself entered with fairly unimpressive stats with a 2-2 record in nine games and a 4.74 ERA. Morton looked as if he was only there to simply provide veteran leadership to a young Tampa Bay Rays team with little experience deep into the MLB postseason. With further examination of Morton’s previous entrances into the MLB playoffs, Morton has pitched quite mediocrely other than a solid two-game run in 2019 as the Astros eliminated the Rays in five games in the ALDS. However, this season was different, and Charlie Morton made that happen with fantastic performances throughout this postseason.  

In Morton’s first appearance of the postseason, we saw a reliable five-inning performance that allowed his club to come out on top in a demolishing 8-4 win over the Yankees. His most recent series against his former team, the Houston Astros, was where Morton put on a show that is sure to be remembered well amongst baseball fans. With an outstanding bullpen behind him, the Rays needed five solid innings from Morton to go up 2-0 in the series and he exceeded expectations as he allowed no runs and tallied five strikeouts through five innings. His next outing on the mound would be his most impressive as he gave up 0 runs and only two hits through five innings of pitching as Tampa was on the brink of elimination in Game 7 of the ALCS.  

With Morton, he is in a great position with Tampa Bay, as he is only looked upon to pitch about five innings of baseball rather than the opposing pitchers. They go deeper into pitching counts and are more prone to allowing runs late into the game in crucial situations. Less pressure is expected upon the veteran to pitch longer into games, and he can hand the ball off confidently to a Tampa Bay Rays bullpen that led the regular season in saves and has pitched very well in these MLB playoffs. With Kevin Cash allowing Morton to pitch with this kind of mindset in these MLB playoff games, he is dominating and is sure to impress even more as Tampa Bay approaches the World Series. 

For Morton, this is his second appearance in the World Series after a previous appearance with the Houston Astros, where they won a controversial World Series title in 2017. Morton returns to face a different-looking Dodgers team that features a plethora of dangerous hitters such as Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson and many more. Morton’s experience against many players on Los Angeles will be no easy matchup for this Dodgers team. Morton enters the World Series with the expectation of domination after excellent performances against the Yankees and the Astros.  

Tampa Bay will most certainly need some of the great pitching we have seen from him this far. He has been so consistent and can be expected to pitch exceptionally well for the five innings that Tampa needs from him. For pitchers like Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell, they have been shown to be slightly inconsistent at times, and with an unforgiving Dodgers lineup that boasts an outstanding pitching rotation as well, runs won’t be easy to get.  

For Morton, he is the unsung hero of Tampa. He is the man that will be a difference-maker in an exciting World Series matchup. He will be relied upon as a key player rather than just an average veteran on a stacked playoff team. When he steps on the mound, runs won’t come very easily for this Dodgers team and they know it. It should be evident at this point for LA: Watch out for Charlie Morton. 

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