Jeff Locke – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Houston
Once again we pick on the Astros, but unfortunately for them they are such an easy target. Locke is a pitcher that I had ranked #2 prior to the season among Pirates’ prospects who could make an impact in 2012 saying:
“He struggled in his first taste of the Majors (6.48 ERA, 1.86 WHIP in four starts) and he also is far from the most talented prospect they have (Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole are still likely at least a year away). That said, over his minor league career he has posted an 8.24 K/9 and 2.41 BB/9m showing he is significantly better than his brief stint last year showed. He’s an interesting name to keep in mind when he does get a second chance, because most others will ignore him.”
He continued to pitch well at Triple-A this season, going 10-5 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.32 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9. Sure, his 82.0% strand rate was slightly inflated, but he also had a realistic .296 BABIP. He also has already pitched in the Major Leagues (including a few relief appearances earlier in 2012), so there’s no reason to shy away from him in that regard. He already has gotten his feet wet.
The Astros are a bad team, but they are even worse against left-handed pitchers hitting a league worst .216, scoring the second fewest runs with 120 (only ahead of the Cubs who, if Locke does get a second start next week, is who he’d face) and hitting the third fewest HR with 29 (all entering play today).
Locke actually has long-term appeal, depending on your format, and is definitely a pitcher I’d roll the dice on for this start and potentially the entire week (he may earn a second start against the Cubs at the end of the week).