Houston Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained lat, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reported. Morton is tied with Lance McCullers for the team lead in strikeouts thus far in 2017.
The team has not set a timetable for the veterans return but can safely be dropped in fantasy leagues while he endures a likely lengthy mid-season absence. But keep an eye on his return at some point this season.
Morton was arguably having the best season of his career before the injury. He has a 5-3 record with a 4.06 ERA to go with 65 strikeouts in just 57 innings pitched. While his ERA has been lower when playing with the Pirates, his 10.14 strikeout per nine innings ratio has never been higher. Being on baseball’s top team also helps him earn wins and maintain fantasy value. He also had a 4-1 record with a 3.00 ERA when playing at Minute Maid park in Houston.
The injury comes after the Astros Mike Fiers is expected to return to the starting rotation after Brad Peacock had supplanted Fiers from the rotation earlier this week. Because Houston does not exactly have a young starting pitcher they can call up to replace him, Fiers and his league-leading 18 home runs allowed are expected to return to the rotation. He can be ignored by fantasy owners in all leagues until his home runs allowed rate drops significantly.
Morton provided depth to the previously top-heavy starting rotation. The team’s plan of limiting starts from Mike Fiers in favor of a better pitcher was thwarted by the Morton injury. Houston better hope Peacock works out or the backend of the rotation is going to be a problem for Houston. The team could ultimately decide to explore a trade for a top of the line starting pitcher before the trade deadline.
The 33-year-old has never quite been able to stay healthy. He has never finished a season with 30 or more starts, but has eight seasons with 10 starts. While he has yet to prove he can be consistently healthy, he should be a low-end rotation candidate in fantasy leagues when healthy.