Spring training is finally coming to an end and Pittsburgh Pirates fifth starter Jeff Locke appears to be ready for the real thing. On Thursday he had his best outing of the spring allowing four hits, no walks and no runs in six innings of work against the New York Yankees. It wasn’t as if the Yankees were fielding a bunch of scrubs either. Starters such as Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells and Kevin Youkilis were all in the lineup.
The games still don’t count, but it was a nice indication that the Pirates made the right choice to fill the injured Jeff Karstens‘ spot in the rotation. The 25 year old hasn’t had the greatest success in his two brief stints in the majors, so hopefully he has turned some kind of corner and is ready for the big time. The saying says ‘third time’s the charm’ and hopefully that is the case with Locke. He needs to prove he isn’t one of those dreaded players that can never seem to make the jump from AAA to the majors. He has nothing left to prove to the organization in the minors so this is his shot, and it may be the only one he gets.
Locke finishes the spring with an impressive earned run average of 2.63 in 27 1/3 innings. He allowed 26 hits and eight walks with 15 strikeouts. If he can bring down the hits allowed a little bit, he will be just what the Pirates need at the back end of the rotation. He needs to make an impression quickly because when Karstens gets healthy he will be back in the rotation, and it is likely Locke or Jonathan Sanchez will be the odd man out.