If I would have told you that Jeff Locke would have a 2.73 ERA through his first nine starts, you would have called me crazy and given me a weird look, right? I know you would have, because I would have too honestly. In fact, even as I’m looking at his statistics right in front of me, I’m still having trouble believing it.
In nine starts, Locke has a 2.73 ERA as I already mentioned, but the question is how is he doing this?
Quite frankly, I’m not sure. To be honest, when looking at his advanced statistics, he really shouldn’t be doing this well. In 52.2 innings pitched, Locke has allowed 22 walks. That is good for just under four walks per nine innings, which is actually very bad. A main reason that a lot of those walks aren’t scoring is because he’s not giving up many hits; in his 52.2 innings, he’s only allowed 39 hits. He isn’t escaping jams the conventional way by piling up strikeouts, however, as he only has 32 strikeouts.
Although he is walking too many batters, it isn’t a result of him falling behind an overwhelming amount of hitters. Locke has gotten first pitch strikes on 60% of all batters faced. His line drive percentage is a bit higher than he would like, I’m sure, with it currently sitting at 23%.
For the Pittsburgh Pirates, Locke has been a very welcomed surprise; and whether or not he can keep up his current pace is unknown, but the statistics say he probably won’t. For now, however, Locke has been the Pirates’ second best pitcher behind staff ace A.J. Burnett. Wandy Rodriguez, the guy that I predicted before the season started would be the best pitcher for the Pirates, has actually been the third best pitcher in the rotation.
The funny thing about Locke and the Pirates rotation is that Locke may not even be in the rotation two months from now. The Pirates have a few reinforcements on the way who are recovering from injuries. Charlie Morton has started pitching in rehab starts in the minor leagues and Jeff Karstens has just recently started rehab starts himself. Oh, and let’s not forget about a certain prospect in Triple-A right now, some guy named Gerrit Cole that is just lurking, waiting for his opportunity.