Charlie Morton is being shut down.
That's about the only absolute to glean from the Pirates placing their only struggling starter on the 15-day disabled list Friday with what the team described as right elbow inflammation. Per the team's statement, "Morton will be in rest mode until the inflammation resolves. Once the inflammation resolves, Charlie will progress through a throwing program and bullpen work before the next step in his progression is determined."
Morton has a 4.65 ERA through nine starts, which isn't bad. But the ERA for May was 5.70, a drop in velocity hurt his fastball and sinker, and opponents increasingly were hitting the ball in the air. When Morton is effective, he gets a lot of grounders.
Morton said after his most recent start Tuesday -- four runs in as many innings in a loss to the Reds -- that he was healthy. But Morton and the coaching staff conferred the next day to discuss his health, and the decision came down Friday.
Morton said Friday the elbow has been bothering him for three weeks.
"It's never gotten to the point where I was over it," he said. "Some days it's good, some days it's not. We want to take care of it now before it gets worse."
Morton similarly was placed on the DL two years ago after far greater struggles, also having declared himself healthy just before the team said he wasn't.
Brad Lincoln will take Morton's spot in the rotation for now. He'll start Tuesday in Cincinnati.