by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Jeff Locke – Pittsburgh Pirates
With Gerrit Cole hitting the DL, the Pirates recalled Jeff Locke to take his place in the rotation. He fared well on Sunday, allowing 1 ER over 7.0 IP against the Brewers, but can we expect more usable starts on the horizon?
He did own a 3.52 ERA for the Pirates over 30 starts in 2013, though it came with a poor strikeout rate (6.76 K/9) and questionable control (4.55 BB/9). The former has not been a constant issue, with a minor league K/9 of 8.2 (7.9 at Triple-A). While he may not be a major source of strikeouts, it is fair to expect a slightly better number if he sticks around.
His control had always been better as well, with a 2.5 BB/9 over his minor league control. While he was at 4.0 in nine Triple-A starts this season, he owns a Triple-A career mark of 3.0.
How about the ability to generate groundballs? Last season he was at 53.2% and was at 52.9% in the minors prior to his recall. It hasn’t be the story of his career (44.1% in he he minors since 2011), but it has been going on long enough to catch our eye.
There are a lot of ifs at play here:
- If he can maintain a higher strikeout rate…
- If he can avoid the walks…
- If he can continue generating groundballs…
If… If… If… The potential is there to be a viable option, but he’s not one to trust at this point. He’s not even guaranteed a rotation spot, though if he pitches well Pittsburgh will find a spot for him. Watch him from a distance, but if he looks good his next time around a move may be prudent.
Chase Whitley – New York Yankees
Having converted from the bullpen recently, no one knew quite what to expect from Whitley when he was promoted to the Majors. Thus far he’s looked good, with a 2.42 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over his first five starts. However, is that indicative of what we should expect moving forward?
While he has shown good control in the minors, does anyone really believe his current 1.04 BB/9? Regression #1…
How about having not allowed a home run, despite a less than dominant 46.3% groundball rate and calling Yankee Stadium home? Regression #2…
There is upside in the strikeout department, considering an 11.1% SwStr% and a 6.23 K/9, but is that really enough to sell us?
Despite pitching well, he’s just 1-0 on the season. That’s because he has gone more than 5.0 innings in just one of his five starts, as the Yankees handled him carefully. Now, just look at the opponents he’s faced:
- at New York Mets
- at Chicago Cubs
- at St. Louis
- vs. Minnesota
- at Kansas City
Those are hardly the toughest matchups in the world. Even his next matchup, at Seattle, isn’t going to tell us everything. We will get a much better idea once he’s facing tougher opponents, as well as taking the mound at home.
For now consider me skeptical.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, Minor League Central