Braves 2021 Player Review: Charlie Morton

Remember when Charlie Morton did this?

What a tragic and wonderful moment.

It was November 24, 2020, when the Braves did what they’d been doing since 2019, the year after Alex Anthopoulos took over. They signed a veteran to a large 1 year deal. Josh Donaldson started the trend. Dallas Keuchel continued it midseason. In 2020, it continued with Cole Hamels (dear lord) and Marcell Ozuna. In 2021, the Braves inked 2 pitchers early to 1 year deals. One, Morton, worked out well. The other, Drew Smyly (Frowny), not so much.

Morton did what the Braves needed him to do. He started 33 games, pitched 185.2 innings, and provided 24 quality starts on the year. Charlie’s best work came down the stretch. From August on, he was brilliant, starting 12 games, carrying a 2.71 ERA.

In 2021, his 2 fastball usages totaled around 50% and the velo was back to averaging 95. The curveball was utilized 36.7% of the time, the 2nd highest of his career, and the cutter and change made up the difference. It’s no secret that his curve is the dagger but all his pitches graded above average and that was a good sign.

However, the best news is that Charlie actually got better after the sticky ban.

In September of 2021, the Braves got ahead of the offseason by re-upping both Travis d’Arnaud and Charlie Morton.

There’s obviously some risk here now that Morton sustained a broken leg, but I’m guessing that Morton will be just fine, he’ll pitch effectively in the 2022 season and the 2023 option will be a no-brainer.

When the World Series will be being playing in 2022, Charlie Morton will turn 39. And while that is concerning for the option year, his career arc is so bizarre that it just might work out beautifully. After all, 185.2 innings in a year was his 2nd most of his career…at 38 year of age.

I’m glad he’s on our team.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

10 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Charlie Morton”

  1. I do agree that he’ll likely recover from the broken leg properly. It’s not like it was some gruesome compound fracture or something. Since he still pitched on it, I would think it can’t be that bad. I also agree that he’s a young 38, he’ll have a good 2022 season, and we’ll probably pick up that option for 2023. I’m optimistic he can be sort of an anchor for this leg of our run and make it 3 seasons with us.

    Bartolo and Hamels were definitely busts, but Morton, Jaime Garcia, and RA Dickey have been worth their one year commitments. I maintain my position that Smyly was, at worst, a wash, and as Smitty said, he was probably worth his money if you consider his World Series performance. So overall, I think this strategy has worked for the pitchers, especially if Morton earns his money this year. It’s pretty remarkable that in 4 seasons of one-year gambles, AA has only busted the one time with Hamels. Keep it going, Alex.

  2. Morton has to be one of the greatest late bloomer pitchers ever. JonathanF, ringing your bat-signal here – how does he compare to guys like Jamie Moyer, Sal Maglie, and I don’t know who all else, in terms of performance as a young man vs. as an old man?

    He is basically the Jose Bautista of pitchers!

  3. @1, not sure if you’re counting this in your evaluation of Jaime Garcia, but he was traded for Ynoa, who has already been worth more to the Braves than Garcia was in his half-season.

  4. Garcia was a good signing. His Grand Slam against the Dodgers was one of the few highlights of 2017. It surprises me he hasn’t pitched since 2018. Injuries I guess.

  5. Yeah, his whole career fell into that “good when healthy” category, a bit like Ben Sheets. (Though Garcia was a lot better for the Braves than Sheets was, in the end.)

  6. @4: Back from Aruba (my cabdriver to the airport wore a Red Sox cap, though he said the B did not stand for Boston — it stood for Bogaerts. The other players on the team wear it as an homage.) I have an idea how to approach this question, and my bad prediction on strike/lockout settlement means we need content… so I’ll try and do this today.

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