Zylbert: What Can We Expect From Charlie Morton’s First Start of the Postseason?
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50).
Betting odds: Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
- Over/Under: 8.5
- First Pitch: 8:39 p.m. ET
- Probable Pitchers: Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.28 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.13 ERA)
- Channel: TBS
- Regular Season: 102-73-4, +21.45 units
- Postseason: 5-7-1, -3.3 units
- Yesterday’s Result: Brewers-Dodgers Under 7.5, Gonzalez vs. Hill (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
Morton has the talent to start Game 1 of a series for a lot of teams. Yet, we are in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, and Morton will be making his first appearance since the last day of the regular season.
Will the long layoff hinder the Houston right-hander?
If anything, the two-plus weeks of rest can only serve to benefit Morton. In fact, throughout his career, the 11-year veteran has typically delivered his best work on extra rest.
Take this year, for instance: Morton was 4-0 in seven starts following six days or more days of rest, churning out an outstanding 1.85 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in the process. In all other starts, he notched a 3.45 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
This was also glaringly true a year ago during his first season with the Astros. In six starts under such circumstances, Morton went 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA. On four or five days of rest, however, he was 10-6 with a 3.91 ERA.
With that in mind, it makes sense for Morton to continue pitching in favor of that trend as a flamethrower who had plenty of rest entering tonight’s outing and will be in a position to air it all out. After all, this will likely be his only start in the ALCS, even if it goes seven games.
It’s also noteworthy that Morton will be pitching in Houston tonight, since he’s been considerably better at home (3.56 ERA) than on the road (4.95 ERA) for his career. In his two seasons with he Astros, Morton has made 32 starts at Minute Maid Park, going 19-5 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
As for whether or not he can handle postseason pressure, Morton has pitched to an acceptable 4.03 ERA and 1.14 WHIP while striking out a batter per inning in seven career playoff starts.
On the other end of the spectrum, Porcello has already pitched in three October games this postseason, including one start that saw him pick up a series-clinching win with five effective shutout innings to knock out the rival Yankees.
While the former Detroit Tigers hurler is coming off a so-so campaign, his outing in the Bronx could be a sign that he’s rediscovering his 2016 Cy Young form, when he racked up 22 wins and posted a splendid 3.15 ERA and .230 batting average against.
Similar to his counterpart, Porcello has intriguing home-and-road splits, except in this case, the numbers are more favorable toward his road performance.
For his career, Porcello is nearly a half-run better on the road (4.03 ERA) than at home (4.48 ERA). In the past two years, it’s been even more extreme, with the veteran right-hander’s 3.77 ERA away from Boston easily besting the 5.14 ERA he’s produced at Fenway Park.
From a mental standpoint, this is Porcello’s sixth adventure in the playoffs in his 11 years — and he’s still trying to nab his first championship. As a result, I think we can trust him to leave it all out there as he seeks to put his club up 3-1 in the series.
For this over/under, you’re going to want to get your action in right away, with the line already having dropped at a lot of books.
Play: UNDER 8.5 (-120)