Middlebrooks: How Braves vet Charlie Morton will attack Astros in World Series


Atlanta Braves veteran Charlie Morton knows how to pitch and thrive under championship pressure. Last October, as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, he recorded 10.2 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros in the ALCS. And three years prior, he helped deliver those same Astros a title with four clutch innings of relief in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.

On Tuesday night, Morton -- who turns 38 next month -- will start Game 1 of the Fall Classic against old teammates and the now-infamous Astros inside Minute Maid Park. And former big leaguer and current CBS Sports HQ analyst Will Middlebrooks is eager to see how the old right-hander fares.

"In the last five years, he's gotten better and better," Middlebrooks told the Tiki and Tierney show on Tuesday. "Every year, you look up, 'Who's starting, who's closing, who's in a big situation for this team in the playoffs? What? Morton? He was in a different uniform last year.' But every year, he's in a big spot with a different team. He closed the World Series for the Astros in 2017.

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"So, it's ironic he's pitching in Game 1 against them this year. Velocity, I think that's the biggest thing. He's smart, he knows how to pitch and he knows how to read swings. You're going to watch him tonight, and it's going to be pretty much a 50-50 split between his curveball and fastball..."

Morton, who signed a one-year free agent contract with Atlanta last winter, has been a stalwart of the NL East champion's rotation. This year, he started a team-high and career-high 33 games, finishing with a 3.47 ERA and 1.04 WHIP across 185.2 innings of work. In three postseason starts this October, Morton has completed 14.1 innings with six earned runs allowed and 19 strikeouts.

The Astros can expect Morton to heavily rely on his curve to generate whiffs. According to Baseball Savant, the pitch ranked in the 98th percentile in spin, and opposing batters hit a measly .127 against Morton's curve with an average exit velocity of 85 mph.

Morton will oppose Astros lefty Framber Valdez on Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 8:09 p.m. ET. According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Braves have a 49-percent chance to win their first title since 1995.

The entire World Series preview between Middlebrooks and Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow the Tiki and Tierney Show on Twitter @TikiAndTierney and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.