The Pittsburgh Pirates have more than a few pitchers working their way back from injuries. Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Jose Contreras are all working to get off of the disabled list in the not-so-distant future. Once all the injured pitchers are finally healthy, some pitchers will need to be sent down to the minor leagues or designated for assignment unfortunately. One player that is showing that he doesn’t want to be replaced is Jeff Locke.
Locke started the season off poorly. He had trouble getting through five innings most of the time. In his previous two starts, including today against the St. Louis Cardinals, Locke has combined for 13 innings with just five hits allowed. On April 23 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Locke pitched six strong innings, allowing just two hits and two walks. Today against the Cardinals, Locke pitched seven innings and gave up just three hits.
Locke has also been more efficient lately. Against the Phillies, he threw 97 pitches in those six innings. That’s not great, but it is better than what he had been doing in early April. Against the Cardinals today, Locke tossed only 95 pitches through seven great innings.
Locke has his ERA down to a very good 2.83 and he moved to 3-1 after a win today against the division-rival Cardinals, giving the Pirates a 2-1 series win in St. Louis.
The main competition for Locke to stay in the rotation is James McDonald and Jonathan Sanchez. McDonald is a guy that can pitch three innings and give up seven walks. He can also pitch seven innings of one-hit baseball. Sanchez is just terrible. Walks, hits, home runs, whatever the opposing hitters want, Sanchez will give them. Sanchez is a lock to be removed from the rotation, it’s just a matter of when.