Morton throws Padres for a curve

Sinker becomes predictable against lefties, so he changes approach

Morton throws Padres for a curve

PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Morton's sinker has always been his moneymaker, but he needed to change his look against left-handed hitters.

So he showed his curveball a bit more Tuesday in a 3-0 victory over the Padres at Citizens Bank Park, where he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings.

"I didn't know we were divulging secrets," Morton said.

Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure recommended Morton throw his curveball more against lefties because Morton had become too predictable against them with his sinker. Left-handed hitters hit .394 against the pitch last season, according to Baseball Savant.

"That's absurd," Morton said.

The curveball worked well as Morton allowed three hits, four walks and struck out seven. He struck out Cory Spangenberg on a curveball in the first and got Alexi Amarista and Jon Jay to ground out on curveballs in the fifth.

"It kind of gives me some wiggle room if I throw my curveball," Morton said. "If I can throw it for strikes, that gets them off my fastball."

Morton is the latest Phillies starter to pitch well. The Phillies' rotation entered the night with a 1.2 WAR, which was the best in baseball. It ranked first in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.38) and second in strikeouts (43), opponent batting average (.195), opponent on-base percentage (.241) and WHIP (0.92).

"I feel like we're going to be in every game with our starting pitching," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Yes, it is just eight games.

True, it is a very small sample size.

Nevertheless, the rotation's 2.87 ERA is an encouraging beginning. Remember the Phillies' rotation from last season? It finished with a 5.23 ERA, which was 29th in baseball. Ten pitchers not named Cole Hamels, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Adam Morgan had a combined 6.19 ERA in 106 starts.

"I'm really excited, not just for the team, but for the organization as a whole," Morton said. "There are some guys in Triple-A that are great. I think the future is really bright for the Phillies, but also just going forward for this year, having a starting rotation that can go out there and have some really effective innings.

"Granted, we're not very deep into the season at all, but it's a really exciting group for me to sit there and watch."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.