Roy Halladay And Charlie Morton: Can You Possibly Tell Them Apart?

PHILADELPHIA: Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch during a game against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

The internet is a cold, sarcastic, cynical place. It will chew up your soul like so much Bubble Yum and stick you under the creaky desk of life. You should probably just go outside for a year or two until this all settles down. So when Ken Rosenthal reported this honest and direct quote from a scout, people made fun of it mercilessly:

Roy Halladay now has an absolute clone on the Pittsburgh Pirates," one rival scout says. "(Charlie) Morton has copied his windup perfectly, from the way he starts to the way he finishes. It’s almost identical."

It was true; Morton really had revamped his delivery. What's so funny about that? That Charlie Morton allowed more runs in his first nine starts of 2010 than Roy Halladay allowed for the entire season? That the idea of a pitcher coming off a historically miserable season can just copy Halladay's delivery if he wants to be effective?

Wait, now I get it. That is pretty funny.

Morton was terrible and Halladay was Halladay. It was like Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 telling reporters ...

We watched Gimme Shelter with the sound off, and I think we really know what the Rolling Stones are about. They kind of sneer like this (sneers) when they hop around with the guitars and stuff, but they look like they're having fun, so we're going to do that. I think you'll be surprised when you see us live.

And then they come out and sound like the musical equivalent of Charlie Morton's 2010. Not so funny now that your ears are leaking pus, is it?

Morton did alter his motion to look like Halladay's, though. There's no mistaking that:

 

And, surprise, Morton got better. Heck, he was so bad last year, he almost had to. But he's been a lot better:

Or did he? Strikeouts are down, walks are up. That's not very Halladaynian. Morton has walked as many hitters in 107 innings this year as Halladay in his last 400 innings. And a lot of the talk about Morton improving is steeped in his fast start -- he hasn't made it past the sixth inning in a start since June 4th, eight starts ago, and his ERA is 5.72 since the start of June. The only sign that Morton is a much-improved pitcher, other than the ERA and the hits allowed, is his league-low home-run rate.

If I have to go on a limb and risk Baseball Nation's reputation on a whimsical guess, it would be this: Charlie Morton will never be as good as Roy Halladay. If you wish to write something similar in the future, please cite this article as your source.

But it's rare that a major-league pitcher so openly copies another, and considering the surface-level statistical improvements Morton has made, it's not so funny anymore. What it is: really, really interesting. If Morton can get the walks down, and if the amazing home-run rate really is a product of his crazy sinker instead of a fluky sample, he'll continue to be a pitcher worthy of a rotation spot. It's likely that the revamped delivery has a lot to do with that transformation.

Considering where he was at the end of 2010, it's a huge step forward. The two pitchers face each other tonight, so you can check out the similarities for yourself. If you take a couple of component cables out of your TV, you'll probably screw up the color enough to make it impossible to tell the difference! Well, until one of them walks the bases loaded. But that's just nitpicking.

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