Jeff Locke made a rehab start tonight for the Bradenton Marauders, coming in to the start with the goal of six innings or 100 pitches, depending on what came first. He ended up reaching the six innings easily without worrying about the 100 pitches, all due to strong fastball command and an approach to pound the strike zone. Locke gave up two runs on five hits and a walk in six innings, with ten strikeouts. A lot of the strikeouts were coming off the fastball, and seven of the strikeouts were swinging. Locke’s fastball was in its normal range of 90-94 MPH, according to multiple radar guns.
“We threw a lot of fastballs,” Locke said about his outing. “A lot of fastballs in to righties. A lot of the stuff that made me successful last season, [I] kind of benefitted from tonight.”
Locke threw 82 pitches, with 59 going for strikes. To get his 100 pitches, he went to the bullpen after his outing, throwing 20 more pitches after a brief break following his final inning. Locke was effective getting out in front of opposing hitters, getting 17 of 24 first pitch strikes, including first pitch strikes to 14 of his final 17 batters. He was going up against the Palm Beach Cardinals, which is the High-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“That team over there, I feel like, is a mini Cardinals,” Locke said. “I feel like they take their at-bats the same way. They’re a team that puts the ball in play. Aggressive. I didn’t see them play last night, but I knew they were going to swing, knew they were going to be aggressive. Really it only took one time through the order for them to be a little bit more aggressive on first pitches.”
Locke struck out six batters in his first three innings, but did see more contact after the first time through the order. The final three innings saw 9 of 14 hitters put the ball in play. Locke worked to counter that by incorporating his curveball and changeup more the second time through the lineup.
The biggest hit of the night off Locke was a solo home run to lead off the second inning by first baseman David Washington. Locke fell behind with a few inside two-seam fastballs, before Washington homered on a 3-1 count.
“He did his job, and I just didn’t do mine that time,” Locke said. “Other than that, everything was really good. I’ll sleep well tonight knowing that I threw the ball well today, and I feel good. That’s the main thing, really, is the oblique feels good. My arm feels good.”
The only other run that Locke gave up came off an RBI double off the wall in center field in the sixth inning, scoring a runner from first. The runner on first reached on a bunt single. The only hard hit balls off of Locke were the home run and the double.
Locke was pitching to Chris Stewart, who is also rehabbing in Bradenton. Stewart caught seven innings tonight, for the first time during his rehab process. This is also the third time that Stewart has caught Locke.
“He’s learned me, I’ve learned him, and I think that’s a big benefit when you have someone here to really help you out,” Locke said.
Locke didn’t know the next step of his rehab, and said that will probably be determined tomorrow. He could make another start in Bradenton, or go up to Indianapolis for a start in the upper levels.
Jeff Locke’s Stats
Line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 HR
Velocity: 90-94 MPH
First Pitch Strikes: 17/24