The third time seems to be the charm for Pittsburgh Pirates‘ left-hander Jeff Locke. The 25-year-old was called up twice before by the Pirates in 2011 and 2012 and neither audition went very well, but Locke has found something this year and he has locked down his spot in the rotation.
He had two starts this past week and the Pirates won both games, including one of his best performances of the season on Sunday where he went seven scoreless innings against the Houston Astros. The Pirates needed that effort as they managed to score just one run, a Pedro Alvarez solo blast, against the Astros’ Lucas Harrell. With those two starts, he earned my Pirates’ player of the week honors.
Locke now has a record of 4-1 and an earned run average of 2.73, along with an impressive WHIP of 1.158. The New Hampshire native does need to work on going deeper in games since he has only made into the seventh inning in two of his nine starts, and has yet to make it into the eighth.
Manager Clint Hurdle hasn’t let Locke hit the century mark in pitches yet this season, and it may be time he does just to ease the workload of the bullpen just a bit.
Just a few weeks ago, I thought Locke might lose his rotation spot if and when all the veteran starters returned healthy, but now the odd man out may just be James McDonald. It is nice seeing Locke fulfill his potential, and the Pirates will need him as they charge towards a summer playoff run.