Phillies righty Charlie Morton will require season-ending surgery on a torn left hamstring, the club announced. He is expected to require a six to eight month recovery time after undergoing the procedure.
Indications were that an MRI had revealed more extensive damage than was initially hoped, and today’s news certainly reflects that. It’s obviously a disappointing turn of events for the veteran starter, who was acquired over the winter for righty David Whitehead.
The Phils had added Morton in hopes that he’d help to stabilize a young rotation while getting his career back on a positive trajectory. He seemed on track to do just that, contributing a 4.15 ERA through 17 1/3 innings in four starts with promising peripherals. Morton had a 19:8 K:BB ratio with an outstanding 62.8% groundball rate in the early going.
Philadelphia owes Morton $8MM for the 2016 campaign. He also has a mutual option at $9.5MM for 2017 that comes with a $1MM buyout. (That was originally a club option under the extension he signed with the Pirates, but converted with the trade.) While mutual options are rarely exercised by both sides, the promising start and subsequent injury could theoretically lead to a match if both sides see the value in a one-year arrangement.
With Morton down, the Phillies will need to find alternatives to fill out the staff. Young hurlers Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez have all shown real promise, while Jeremy Hellickson was added for much the same reason as was Morton. But the fifth starter’s role will now likely go to another internal option. Ryan Lawrence of the Philly Voice noted yesterday that 26-year-old southpaw Adam Morgan was scratched from his upcoming Triple-A start, likely in anticipation of a call-up, so it seems he’ll get the first crack.