WASHINGTON — The Phillies spent the last six months preparing for this moment. That fact that the organization has added starting pitching depth — most of it young — does not make it any easier to accept a season-ending injury to a veteran arm who could have fetched more talent later this summer.
Charlie Morton's left hamstring is torn, and he will not pitch again this year. Adam Morgan, 26, is expected to fill Morton's spot in the rotation, beginning with Friday's turn.
And it is quite possible the Phillies will not have another game this season started by a pitcher 30 or older.
"I don't think we're starved for experience," assistant general manager Ned Rice said. "We have the young guys we're excited about. We wanted to have Charlie for the year. We were excited for the opportunity with him."
Morton will have surgery in Philadelphia on Monday. The team said his expected recovery time is six to eight months.
The Phillies had hoped the veteran righthander could be a stabilizing force in the middle of the rotation. Had he pitched well, the Phillies could have looked to flip him in July to a contending team.
It was a risk that did not succeed. The Phillies are stuck with Morton, who will make $8 million this season on the disabled list. He will be a free agent at season's end.
Morton tore the hamstring while running out a bunt Saturday night in Milwaukee. He had a 4.15 ERA in four starts, but the Phillies were encouraged by an uptick in fastball velocity and his increased curveball usage.
"I feel bad for him and for us because he was starting to throw really well," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It's a shame."
The Phillies have a collection of young pitchers — both prospects and middling ones with big-league experience — at triple A and double A. The current Phillies rotation, once Morgan is added, will be the team's youngest since 2004.
"We have plenty of guys," Rice said. "As the season goes along, you'll see more guys who are maybe beginning their triple-A careers now. They'll be 70, 80, 100 innings in, and you'll feel better about them.
"We never thought we would get through a year with five starters, so we were ready for this. It came earlier than we would have liked."
No Phillies hitter has a higher OPS since the start of the 2015 than Andres Blanco. The 32-year-old utility player has remade his career, and that is why the Phillies are paying him $1.45 million this season.
He will stay in that role.
"He is who he is," Mackanin said. "If he played every day, he might not be the same type of player. It's hard to find a player who can do what he does."
Aaron Nola will oppose Tanner Roark in Thursday afternoon's series finale. Roark, who has a 2.63 ERA, struck out 15 in his last start against Minnesota. ... Ryan Howard, who is 4 for his last 30 with zero extra-base hits, did not start Wednesday against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez.