Four starts into the season, Morton sits at 0-4 with a bloated 16.20 ERA. Three of those starts have ended in fewer than four innings, including the latest one on Sunday. In that outing, Morton gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in three innings before being pulled.
Considering the Pirates' collective starting woes and taking into account concerns that Morton's struggles could begin affecting him mentally, how long can the Pirates afford to keep him in the big league rotation?
"There is a concern that at some point in time it becomes counterproductive, but our belief is that we're still at a point in time where Charlie is a good Major League starter," said general manager Neal Huntington. "We still have confidence we can get Charlie turned around and have him win games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's tough not to get out of the fourth inning very often for any starter, but especially for a young starter with his good stuff. We have to get the consistency to play, as it did a year ago."
Manager John Russell said the lack of other starting options in the organization is playing little role in the Pirates' decision to keep giving the ball to Morton every fifth day. Instead, there's a belief that if Morton can be smarter with his pitch selection and avoid the big inning, he can become a much more reliable presence in the rotation.
"He's working extremely hard," Russell said. "We see progress. It's not showing in results as much as you'd like in games. But this is a guy that we want to continue to work with here. I still really believe that Charlie is going to be fine.
"He just needs to settle down. At some point, he'll figure it out to where he can start gaining some confidence. That's the next step -- realizing what he can do."
Morton's next scheduled start will come Friday in Los Angeles.