The Atlanta Braves placed right-hander Charlie Morton on the 15-day injured list on Sunday because of right finger inflammation, the team announced. The move means that Morton will miss Atlanta's National League Divisional Series.
Although Morton's IL stint is backdated a day to Sept. 23, his activation date (Oct. 8) will fall a day after Atlanta has to submit its roster for the series (Oct. 7). Morton could, in theory, replace a player who becomes injured during that series, but the commissioner's office would likely intervene if it appeared the Braves were attempting obvious roster manipulation. (Morton would be eligible to return for the NL Championship Series, should the Braves advance to that point.)
Morton, 39, left his most recent start on Friday after just an inning of work. On the season, he's amassed a 3.64 ERA (121 ERA+) and a 2.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His contributions have been worth an estimated 3.1 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference's calculations.
Morton is the second starter the Braves have lost to the IL this week. On Thursday, they put left-hander Max Fried on the shelf because of a blister. Fried's IL stint will expire a day before rosters are due, meaning that he will be eligible to return in time to be part of the squad.
Presuming Fried is back, the Braves are likely to trot out an NLDS rotation that includes him, Spencer Strider, and Bryce Elder. Kyle Wright appeared to be the strongest candidate for the other spot, though he's scuffled in two starts since returning from his own injury-forced sabbatical and will work out of the bullpen the rest of the regular season to audition for a spot in the postseason relief corps, manager Brian Snitker said Sunday.
The Braves enter Sunday with a 99-55 record, the best mark in Major League Baseball. By virtue of having a top-two record in their league, the Braves will bypass the Wild Card Series round entirely.