On Monday, Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jeff Locke got battered around by the Baltimore Orioles. He allowed eight hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings pitched. The good thing for Pittsburgh fans is that he only allowed two runs.
If you are a glass half full kind of guy or gal you can look at Monday’s outing as Locke proving he can survive without his best stuff. With that many hits allowed it could have been a lot worse. He did get some help from Phil Irwin, who relieved Locke in the fourth inning, when he came in and struck out back to back hitters to get the Pirates out of a jam with runners on second and third with just one out.
Locke should still have the inside track to a spot in the rotation, but he needs to put together a couple of solid outings. His earned run average for the spring is at 4.05 and he is allowing just over one hit per inning, which is never a good thing. He does have some big league experience, which is a plus, but that experience is much like this spring has been, lots of hits and earned runs.
The time is now for Locke. He is 25 years old and the Pirates have other pitchers in the system that are younger and making significant gains. If Locke doesn’t take advantage of this opportunity, his days could be numbered in the Pirates system. It is better to trade him away before he loses all his value than to hang on for too long and watch him flame out.