Whomever in the Astros front office finds the free agent pitching reclamation project each winter, that person deserves a raise. After signing Doug Fister on a one-year below-market contract while re-establishing his free agent value, the Fister replacement for 2017 is ex-Pirate Charlie Morton.
Fisher: Safe on steal attempt
(c) Associated Press
Morton has been the most impressive starting pitcher in camp this spring and the hope is that he can carry this over into the regular season after tossing 4-1/3rd innings of shutout ball against the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie, FL, on Friday in a 2-0 whitewash.
Morton and six of the b-list relievers shared in the shutout. The 33-year-old righthander is now 2-0 this spring with a 1.04 ERA in 17-1/3rd innings. That also happens to be the number of innings the New Jersey native pitched for the Phillies last season after seven years in Pittsburgh where he compiled a 41-62 record.
Derek Fisher manufactured the only run that mattered. It came in the fifth against Mets Opening Day starter Noah Syndergaard. Fisher stroked a one-out single to right, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a single by Reid Brignac.
J.D. Davis produced the other run in the eighth when he drilled a solo shot to left-center against Addison Reed. The insurance run looked like it might be needed in the bottom of the eighth when New York loaded the bases with no outs against Tyson Perez before Michael Freeman entered and escaped the jam without the Mets crossing the plate.
With the win, Houston finally made it to the .500 mark in Grapefruit League play at 12-12-2. Next up is a Saturday/Sunday series at TBPOFTPB against their bunkmates, the Washington Nationals. Saturday's 12:05 Central contest features Lance McCullers (1-1, 4.15 ERA this spring) against Tanner Roark (0-0, 0.00 in seven IP). The Astros will get back Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltran from the World Baseball Classic and become a full team again for the first time since February.
The Astros also announced that lefthander Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, will make his third Opening Day start when the regular season begins against Seattle on April 3rd. The rest of the rotation has yet to be announced but one can expect Morton to be in the rotation somewhere.
The Houston Chronicle also reports that righthander Collin McHugh might start the season on the disabled list which would settle the argument whether Mike Fiers or Joe Musgrove would get the final rotation spot. Until McHugh is healthy, both have made it.
- Bob Hulsey