The Rays hit a grand slam in signing pitcher Charlie Morton to a very reasonable free agent contract last offseason as the veteran right-hander had a spectacular first year with Tampa Bay. Here are two props available to wager at Mybookie on Morton’s 2020 MLB season – assuming there is one – and an overview.
Lance Lynn MLB Awards Odds & Analysis For 2020 Season
- Most wins of any pitcher: Morton is +2200
- AL Cy Young Award: Morton is +1400 to become the second player in franchise history (David Price) to win the Cy Young.
In December 2018, the Rays made one of the best decisions of any team in the majors that offseason in signing Morton to a two-year, $30 million contract that included a club option for this season – it was a no-brainer for the Rays to pick that up this offseason. Morton was a huge part of the reason the Rays were able to overcome injuries to Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow on their way to a 96-win season that ended in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Astros.
Morton was named the co-winner of the Don Zimmer Award as the club’s Most Valuable Player along with Austin Meadows, the first tie in the award’s 22-year history. Morton was the fourth starting pitcher to win it.
The 12-year veteran enjoyed a career year, establishing personal bests in wins (16), ERA (3.05), strikeouts (240), starts (33) and innings pitched (194.2). He Finished among AL leaders in wins (tied for 5th), ERA (3rd), strikeouts (5th), starts (tied for 5th), innings (9th), SO/BB (4.21, 5th), WHIP (1.08, 5th) and opp avg. (.215, 4th). He led the AL with a 0.69 HR/9 IP ratio, yielding only 15 homers in 194.2 innings.
Opponents hit .179 (27-for-151) with runners in scoring position vs. Morton, the lowest in the FL. He became only the fourth pitcher in AL history to record at least 240 strikeouts at age 35 or older. The others were Houston’s Justin Verlander in 2019 and 2018, Toronto’s Roger Clemens in 1998 and Texas’ Nolan Ryan in 1989.
Morton’s 240 strikeouts were 3rd in Rays history, behind Chris Archer in 2015 (252) and 2017 (249). Morton led the AL in ERA from June 21-25, July 2-29 and Aug 17-20. It was the third time a Rays pitcher led the AL in ERA in August (or later). Morton allowed 2 runs (or fewer) in 22 of 33 starts, 2nd in the AL, excluding openers, behind Houston’s Gerrit Cole (24).
Morton also was selected to the All-Star Game for the second time in his career. At 35 years, 8 months, he was the oldest pitcher to make the All-Star Game in Rays history, surpassing Fernando Rodney (35 years, 3 months) in 2012. Morton was the third-oldest All-Star in Rays history overall, behind Fred McGriff (36 years, 8 months) in 2000 and Greg Vaughn (36 years, 0 months) in 2001.
Morton started the Wild-Card Game against Oakland and allowed just one run in five innings, which was an unearned run. He improved to 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA (14-IP, 1-ER) in “winner take all” games (Game 7 of 2017 ALCS, Game 7 of 2017 World Series, both with Houston) and became the only pitcher in major league history to record the win in three “winner take all” playoff games. Of the eight non-active pitchers he broke a tie with, four are in the Hall of Fame: Pedro Martínez, Randy Johnson, Catfish Hunter and Bob Gibson.
He also started Game 3 of the ALDS against his former Houston Astros teammates and held them to one run over five innings while whiffing nine batters in the win. Jose Altuve took Morton deep with one out in the top of the first inning, but that’s all the Astros managed.
This could be Morton’s final season as he has said that he is considering retiring after the 2020 campaign: “If I throw really well and I feel really good, it’s going to be a tough decision. But if either one of those things happen, where I’m not pitching really well, or I’m not healthy, then, yeah, I’m not going to play [in 2021].”
Morton had only made two Grapefruit League appearances (3.1 innings) before spring training was suspended this year.