It’s Vance Worley vs Jeff Locke For the Lone Battle in the Rotation

This is shaping up to be one of the least surprising Spring Trainings I can remember for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There are very few position battles, with most of the roster spots already spoken for. That is probably a side effect of being a contending team, and a buyer over the off-season.

An example of this can be seen in the rotation. The Pirates added two free agent starters this off-season, bringing back two familiar faces in Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett. Those two will join the guys they have in place, with the top options being Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Vance Worley, and Jeff Locke.

Beyond the Opening Day options, the Pirates have some nice depth. They have been drafting a lot of pitchers in the draft, and that has led to some strong pitching depth in the upper minors. Top prospects like Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, and Adrian Sampson could make the jump to the majors at some point this year. Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler have already made that jump, and will be around for early season depth.

With Spring Training starting this week, we will be looking at all of the position battles on the team. Just like yesterday with the starting lineup, there aren’t many battles for the rotation. The main battle depends on whether Charlie Morton will be healthy by Opening Day. So to add further analysis, I looked at what might happen in the event of an injury during camp. Here is the outlook on the rotation, heading into Spring Training.

Guaranteed a Rotation Spot

Francisco Liriano/Gerrit Cole/A.J. Burnett – If healthy, these three are making the Opening Day rotation. They are projected to be the top three starters in that rotation. Liriano was just signed to a big, multi-year deal this off-season, and hopes to continue putting up numbers similar to what he had the last two years in Pittsburgh, which were two of the best years of his career. Burnett returns to Pittsburgh after going to Philadelphia for a year and seeing his numbers struggle. Injury was certainly part of the reason for his issues, and the lack of a focus on framing certainly didn’t help him. The hope here is that he can get close to his 2012/13 seasons, which were two of the best in his career. Finally, Cole has shown some good stuff for a Major League pitcher, but he has yet to breakout as the top of the rotation pitcher he was expected to be. It would be huge if that happened in 2015.

When Will He Return?

Charlie Morton – It definitely seems possible that Morton could be ready by Opening Day. He started throwing bullpen sessions a week before every other pitcher, and the only thing that would hold him back would be a setback, or a conservative approach by the Pirates. Such an approach would only hold him back for a few weeks, and the Pirates don’t really need a fifth starter for the first two weeks of the season (they would need one spot start before the 21st of April). He belongs in the section above, since he is guaranteed a rotation spot. However, his injury status puts him in question for Opening Day, and puts him in a category of his own.

Fighting For the Final Spot

Vance Worley/Jeff Locke – If Morton can’t make it by Opening Day, and if the Pirates want to use five starters from day one, then Worley and Locke would make the team. But eventually, they’re going to have to choose between the two for the fifth starter job.

Worley is coming off a nice half season in which he looked a lot like the version we saw in the majors when he first came up. That makes total sense, as he worked on reverting his mechanics back to his pre-injury days, which is when he was successful in the big leagues.

Meanwhile, Locke was great in the first half once again, but struggled in the second half for the second year in a row. In 2013 he had those splits, and the regression in the second half was predictable, based on his advanced metrics. Last year the advanced metrics matched the performance he was putting up, but he still struggled in the second half. He has shown signs of being a good MLB starter, but the second half collapse two years in a row raises questions about whether he can be relied on all year.

What Happens if There is an Injury During Camp?

The Pirates have plenty of starting pitching depth, so they’ll be covered if there is an injury that comes up during Spring Training. If Charlie Morton is ready to play at the start of the season, then an injury would just mean that Worley and Locke will both make the team (assuming, of course, that the injury isn’t to one of those two players).

If Morton can’t make it by Opening Day, then the Pirates could take advantage of their early schedule, go with four starters for the first two weeks, call up Brandon Cumpton for a spot start on April 15th, and re-evaluate the rotation going forward on April 21st, when they will need a fifth starter for good.

Beyond that, I’d say that the early season call-up candidates are Cumpton and Clayton Richard. Richard will largely depend on whether he can be this year’s version of Worley, which is something I wrote about a few weeks ago. I’d include Casey Sadler in this mix, but the Pirates used him out of the bullpen last year during his callups, and I could see him going to the bullpen full-time in Indianapolis this year. Nick Kingham and Adrian Sampson both have time in Triple-A, although I think they’re both better options for mid-season, after they get more work at the Triple-A level.

  • This is one of the least intelligent threads I have ever read

  • Worley & Locke are 4 & 5 SP and Burnette retires before seadon begins. He underperformed last year. Why is everyone ASSUMING he makes the starting rotation at his age, especially given how poorly he did lady year…

  • Charlie Morton. Eh.. I hope this is the year. I hope this is the time he finally puts it all together like I thought he did in 2013. People always look to his ERA and his ground ball rate. Those are deceiving. He will roll along like he’s on another level. Your feeling good about him and then thud. He loses all command he starts beaning people innings start lasting longer and it’s over he’s lost it. W/L record isn’t a great way to gauge a SP. But there is a reason his 2014 record was what? 5-11? and 36-61 in his career with a 4.50 ERA. I’m sorry folks that is not a #3 starter. He is a #5 at the very least a #4. I understand they are paying him a decent amount so he will be in the rotation but I’d much rather go with Worley who had a mid’ 2’s ERA last year and a winning record and Jeff Locke who has at least been brilliant most of the first halves of 2013 and 2014.Morton’s going to start when ready and this should be the last shot. Time to perform like a guy that has gotten 10 chances and who supposedly has “light’s out stuff”. You can dominate with good secondary stuff but not without consistent command of those pitches

    • Also, He has to be better than all but 2 Liriano and Cole this year or he’s either out of the rotation or gone because there a couple guys named Taillon and Kingham ready to take over no later than 2016

      • Nick Kingham almost certainly will not be a better starting pitcher than Charlie Morton in 2016. Extremely, extremely optimistic.

    • @Chris Hale – Very solid post, brother. You’re nailing it on the head here. I love Morton and he seems like the coolest guy. But at some point the metrics have to catch up to the reality or vice versa.

      I hold out hope for Chuck, but it seems he has a mental-metrics side that gets in his way from time to time.

      -BB

    • So you’re using Morton’s pre-2011 numbers, but only Worley’s 2014 ERA?

      Solid analysis.

  • Thank you everyone. I now understand why you don’t go with six.
    Makes good sense…

    • @dr. dng- I agree with you, not everyone else. The baseball season is a war of attrition and if you have the guys to have a six man rotation it does a number of things for you…. 1 is it prevents overuse and injury and 2 it creates the possibility of changing the order of your starters pretty regularly to mess with the other team’s preparation.

      The other thing you could do is if your starter for the night is scuffling and can’t make it through the night, you can just plop another starter right down after him AND you can still be situational vis-a-vis righty / lefty to a degree.

      I think this is a place where old school baseball tradition needs a firm look in the mirror. The benefit of a six man rotation would be killer in the dog days and down the stretch, where you could pare down to your aces.

      The REAL problem with the baseball orthodoxy is that almost nobody HAS the guns to do it. I believe you are looking at a Pirate team that potentially HAS the guns to do it. The GM who pulls it off will be a mad genius and change the game.

      -BB

      • AND FURTHERMORE…
        ….What do you think they’ll be doing with Morton and Taillon by taking them slow to start the season? Exactly! Keeping them fresh enough so they have innings to give WHEN??? Down the stretch and into the playoffs.

        The only thing that would give me pause about using a six man (obviously, early on, the Pirates don’t even need a 5th, so it would make sense (to me anyway) to use a 5 man rotation and add a sixth when the schedule gets heavier…) is the actual physiognomy of pitching and rest and recovery cycles for those pitchers. But I am sure modern sports nutrition and strength and fitness coaches would be able to work with extra time.

        -BB

      • It does NOT prevent injury. I studied sports medicine at Univ. Of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. You?

        And taking out a struggling starter-that’s long relief. Really. Have you ever coached baseball?

        • @BBF
          I don’t understand your apparent hostility.
          I have not studied sports medicine.
          Other than playing a lot of baseball, I have not coached it.

          The way you sound is like a doctor who knows everything and forgets how to listen. You can’t get over your orthodoxy. I don’t mean this as an insult. My pastor can’t think of anything outside the orthodoxy of Christianity and I love the guy.

          I love Jersey Joe and we agree on nothing.

          Now, I respect your informed statement that too much rest causes injury. But… 1. I don’t think I’m talking about too much rest. I’m talking about incremental rest over time. And… 2. I think pitching injury is scientifically common given the orthodoxy of the 5 man rotation and the length of the season plus training requirements. So … SOMETHING is wrong or could be improved. Still – given this, I fully appreciate your above statement that we’re paying Liriano a lot of money to pitch, not not to pitch. I get that very good point.

          Please allow me to introduce you to the art of wondering. What if there is something we are overlooking? The Pirates have been very good at finding elements in their game that they seem to understand more clearly than the standing baseball orthodoxy. A catcher who frames a pitch is maybe as valuable as Johnny Bench. A pitcher who throws from a high angle to a low spot induces ground balls and that might be as valuable as Nolan Ryan and the unhittable fastball.

          Almost all of the Pirates’ pitchers have been injured or unproductive over the last two years, necessitating rest, surgery, rehab and other times away from the game. The Pirates used, what? 15 starters last year? What if the best six pitchers actually pitched MORE by having some rest but less time away from the game? Is that possible?

          Even if it isn’t, it’s still a good question asked in a polite forum. I only ask your indulgence and thoughtfulness. I don’t mean to invite your spite, even if you may find the idea laughable on the surface.

          Thanks, man. Soldier on.

          -Wabbit

          • Perch teaching staff is old man. AJ Burnett. Wandy Rodriguez. Liriano. That explains a lot of the injuries.

            And the pitching injuries are in the starting pitchers, not the relief pitchers. That implies there is something wrong with the training.

            If you want to rest the pitchers, only pitch them five innings a game and left a bullpen do the work. Makes more sense to me. But Clint Hurdle will not do that, as he wants them to work into the seventh inning of every game. The reasoning is that your best pitchers are your starting pictures. Pitchers are in the bullpen for a reason, because they are not your 5 best pitchers. I’m not saying I agree with him, but that is his philosophy and we are not about to change it.

          • Within two years, they will put radios in pitcher’s & catcher’s helmets, so the manager or pitching coach can call the game. So much for catchers framing the game.

            I think that pitchers responded better when there were four man rotations. There was a lot of stink about going to 5 man rotations. Now with all of the expansion, the talent is more watered down than ever. So why not go back to the 4 man rotation? The first team that does it will likely win their division. You get Liriano more games. 25 starts instead of 20 in the first hundred games played. And they don’t play double headers anymore and there are more off days so it shouldn’t be a big deal on him. In other words the 20 games that would have went to the 5th guy, go to the 1,2,3 and 4 guys. And the 5th guy does long relief or set-up.

            When you look at the win percentage of the fifth starter compared to the first starter, second starer, third starter and fourth starter; it would have been enough to clearly win the division last year.

            Now that’s some sensible food for thought Wabbit

  • Ok, here goes another of my dumb questions… One guy is old, another one gets tired late in the season, one is recovering from injury, with some of these things in mind, is there any chance a team would go with a 6 starter rotation early in the season to make it easier on the starter’s arms and maybe they all have more left in them later in the season?

    • Only way it makes sense is if you don’t really have any *good* starters.

      The more guys you have in the rotation, the less starts your good pitchers can make. Teams with good depth have their 6th, 7th, 8th starters either in the pen ready to be stretched out or in AAA. 6-man rotations are generally like 2-Quarterback systems, if you’re familiar with that old adage.

      • Agreed. It’s just not practical. You always hear the 6-man mentioned but I think it is more media hype than anything. So few teams have 4 good starters, let alone 6.

        • But… We DO have the chance of having six very good starters. AJ will need the rest.

          -BB

          • AJ has thrown at least 187 IP 7 years in a row including 213 last year while he was hurt and the year he broke his orbital. He’s is getting old but doesn’t really show any signs he is less durable. Anything can happen but I say pencil AJ in for 180+ IP and don’t worry too much about it.

    • Cole and Liriano would rightfully have a major beef with this strategy, As should every other Pirate player not included in the back end of the starting staff.

    • Starters tend to get injuries when given too much rest between starts. Also control suffers. And you are paying Liriano too much to use him every 6th game.

  • I’d have leaned toward Worley regardless, but with all the recent discussion of MLB enforcing the strike zone, well, I don’t know if Locke has much of a career left.

    • See, I’d think that would actually hurt Worley as much, or more. His resurgence last year mostly boiled down to stealing more strikes on the edges. Force him further over the plate and I doubt his stuff can cut it.

      • I’ll respectfully disagree there. Worley has more deception and a greater ability (or at least desire) to pitch upstairs and use the entire zone. Locke lives inside to RHB and doesn’t get a ton of calls there – he’s relying on contact. If batters start letting those go, IMO he’s sunk.

      • Locke actually went from a mostly even curveball/change-up guy to more of a fastball/change-up guy who mixes in the curve last year. He threw almost twice as many changes to curves last year after being about even for his career. To me this shows a pitcher that is making adjustments and still finding what works for him and that he is becoming a “crafty lefty”. Locke’s ERA+ the last 2 years is around 95-96 making him valuable to not only the Pirates but to at least 8-12 teams or more who could use a 5th starter. He is in his prime and you only need to see Duke, Maholm, & Gorzellany to know that Locke will be around a long time in some capacity. I love the idea of having a lefty as your swingman too. That’s a beautiful thing, especially in PNC.

        • All true, I just don’t think looking at Locke’s aggregate numbers tell the story. Locke wasn’t a slightly above average pitcher last year; he was a really, really good pitcher, and then a really, really bad pitcher. A team would have to bet on the former to actually get anything of value in a trade, IMO.

          I think the guy who figures out how to stock a pen with 2-3 guys who can consistently give 2 innings every 3rd or 4th game is going to make a lot of money. Take out the 4th time through the order and you make a lot of 3/4/5 starters look a hell of a lot better, and you still get to keep traditional roles in the 8th and 9th. I think a guy coming out of the pen could throw upwards of 100+ innings if he had a relatively set rest and recovery schedule to follow.

          • This is something I would like to see. You rarely see relievers with 80+ ip anymore let alone 90 or 100. If you can throw 200+ in 33-34 games why not throw 100 or so in 50-60 games?

          • @NMR – Most brilliant of posts. I am with you on this being the optimal role for Jeff Locke.

            -BB

          • One good thing for Locke is his control greatly improved last year. He definitely was nibbling less and using the change to get outs with more balls in play. Locke’s stuff is not dominant though so it lead to more hits and HR and less Ks. I just saw that Zito signed with the A’s and was looking at his stats and had been looking at locke and saw some similarities…so I projected Locke out to Zito’s 2569 career IP and got these bizarrely similar numbers with Zito first and Locke second: Hits – 2369/2426, Ks – 1883/1860, BB – 1058/1067, HR – 278/265, WHIP – 1.334/1.362, ERA – 4.02/4.00, FIP – 4.32/4.37…Zito had all his best success early in his career and Locke’s sample is extremely small but it’s crazy how similar they are…at least statistically. Locke is far more of a power pitcher than Zito ever was though…which is good for Locke going forward if he keeps learning ways to adjust.

  • Obviously you are going to need more than five starters, I think both start the season in the rotation because I don’t think Morton will be ready. Neither really have profile to be high leverage relievers, but that is a bridge to be crossed later.

    • They have 3 top lefties out of the pen if Worley wins the job…but there is no room for Locke in the pen although I think he could be throwing 92-94 in short stints and really good because he can get righties out. He has no options either so is there really any way that one of Locke and Pimentel won’t be traded? I feel like if they don’t they are going lose one of them. They both can make it early I guess but one of Holdzcom, Caminero, and Liz will be gone. Depth is never a problem but it is a burden because you may have to lose someone you know will contribute. Now I will say the cliché it will probably all work itself out. One of the top 12 pitchers will probably be on the DL between now and early April buying time for decisions to have to be made…it seems weird but minor injuries can be a blessing early in the season when you have a deep team…and AJ Burnett does have quite a few bunting drills left to do!

    • 6 man rotation.

      Just kidding. I really prefer a 4 man rotation like they had in 1970’s.

  • I want Vance Locke….or is it Jeff Worley? The solution is oh so easy. Start Jeff in the first half. Move him to the ‘pen for the second half and start Worley for the second half.

    Problem solved. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • I am more concerned about whether the AJ that we all know and love will be able to show up. I get concerned when a 39 year old says “I think I have one more year left in me”. If 2013 AJ shows up he’s a great addition. If there is a progression downhill from 2014 AJ in Philly that’s real, potentially Wandy like, trouble. At this point in time we really know more of what to expect out of any of the other starting options than we do of AJ. Can he be fixed by the brain trust again, one last time?

    • I am not at all confident in AJ and I think it’ll prove to be a waste of $8 mil. As always, I hope I am wrong.

      • Also have had a bad feeling from the start. Just can’t convince myself to trust a 38 yo arm with over 2000 IP logged after TJS.

        • The elephant in the room is how long of a leash do they give a healthy, yet ineffective, Burnett? Might be the biggest issue CH and co. face this season. I hope not, but it’s definitely a distinct possibility.

          • Could not agree more, Scott.

          • Seriously, you think he’s going to be so bad that he’s not one of the top 5 starters on this team at any given time, counting injuries and everything else? I can’t see him falling that much. And actually I think he’s a good shot for his 2013 performance. Last year’s fiasco seemed to focus him even more on making the Bucs a winner.

            • I think Pirates were wise in signing him as he performed well here in past. My concerns are his age and performance last season.

              As players get older their bad days seem to happen more frequently. I hope he can recapture the magic from Pirates past, but I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t.

      • He’s too competitive to fail. As long as the team is winning we will get good AJ.

      • I agree. They are being nostalgic.

      • AJ is an innings eater, always has been. He’s also a tremendous competitor and will find a way to use his still effective pitches. No worries Lee.

    • I don’t think there’s any question about AJ. He’s been around too long. He’s too known a commodity. His arm is good. He knows his body. And he makes people swing and miss; page 1 in defensive baseball. The old man can play. And I think it will be good for him to be one of the guys instead of “the” guy.

      For AJ, he’s got to see a difference between the way things are/were in the Burgh and the way things are/were in Philadelphia. AJ is money in the bank this year and since he expires in 2016 there is room for the new pitching studs to come into the majors.
      ______________________
      “To think. She was somebody’s baby once.”
      -Wabbit

  • If this is still a relavant question on April 1st then I’ll answer it. These situations have a funny way of working themselves out most of the time.

  • Let’s see, worley, locke… worley,locke? Hmm, vanimal or scared rabbit? Well there’s your answer.

    • Harsh, but there’s some truth there. If he puts up good Spring numbers, now might be a good time to explore trading Locke for good minor league talent. Create some space for Kingham to move into.

      • Along with some of the spare arms that will be left after rosters are finallized a trade of locke is a good possibility. I would not hold my breath, it just would’nt surprise me.

      • @piraddict – Worley clearly is the better pitcher overall but don’t discount Locke. I see him as a valuable swing-man out of the bullpen. The problem is Locke can’t hold it together over the long season. So… simple… back him off into the bullpen as a long guy and (a third) lefty specialist and use him in spot starts throughout the season. This would get the most mileage from Jeff by lightening his load and probably ramp up his results as a reliever.

        -BB

        • Can’t hold it together over a long season…based on 2 seasons??? Are you really that simplistic in your thinking? What are you, 12 years old?

          He is young. He will learn to pitch better in the summer/fall. Assuming there even is a problem and it was not just a coincidence (my guess). He is much younger and therefore the Bus will likely go with Jeff, all other things being equal.

        • Locke was All Star selection.

          • Hi Jeff. I did not mean any offense.

            I’m 53 years old. Empirically, Worley is a better pitcher than you are, but, as I wrote – I would never count you out. Both of you are quite good pitchers. In the same way that almost all of our pitchers needed time off last year, I think you’ll still start 20 games or so one way or another and the Bucs will be better for it.

            Empirically, it seems as though the long grind of the season wore you down in both of the last two seasons. That’s not an insult. I think since Worley was resurrected last season, he’s the better of two good pitchers – both of whom I root for. Worley is listed as 50 pounds heavier than you are and likely can take the long grind better and he has a better career record and ERA in the majors, albeit by a slim margin.

            My juvenile brain thinks you will be better served by basically starting half the season and relieving the other half and you know what? You’ll probably make the all-star game again that way.
            ———————————————-
            “Ach yer mother rides a vacuum cleaner!!!”
            -Wabbit

            • What the hell does being 50 lbs lighter have to do with pitching a full season?

              Is there a sabermetric that shows for each pound your ERA is 0.02 less or something? Lol

              Kent Tekulve was a total lightweight and one of the best RP of all time dude. Really. And he pitched a ton of innings, ALMOST SETTING A SEASON RECORD FOR INNINGS FOR A RP. You are INSANE.

              • BBF…

                You have me there. I have been called insane on prior occasions.

                I mention the thing about weight because it seems that players lose weight over the grind of the season. I think Jeff Locke has ground down in the last two years, but I don’t know what he weighed all that time, only that he’s pitched better early in seasons, and I’m looking for why.

                I think the Pirates tend to draft big pitchers for this reason. Look up and down the system and you can see the weight Huntington gives to big pitchers who can add muscle over the years. I mean, they’re all 6’5″ 230. And you can begin to see that he’s onto something.

                Locke is only listed at 180 or so, I think.

                Relative to Teke, the old man with the brand new ticker was, indeed, a rarity, not the norm. AND I would suggest part of Teke’s reliability was in that he pitched almost underhanded. He was extremely unconventional.

                If you have a sports medicine background, then you’ll have to admit throwing a baseball in the conventional way is a rather unnatural thing to do. Teke’s delivery would seem to have been a big part of his longevity. Throwing with that buggy whip style would, I think and you can correct me if I’m wrong, have defrayed the stress on the arm quite a bit, wouldn’t you say so?

                Hey, BBF. I was reading in between the lines of today’s article on P2 about Hurdle’s thoughts on the team and he was talking about resting players and it made me wonder how many other insane people might be steering the club we love:

                **Hurdle was asked whether the team planned to give Andrew McCutchen more of a break. He talked about how McCutchen, and all players, just want to play, but the team has to find a balance. Then he discussed what could be an interesting source to try and find that balance.

                “I read an interesting article awhile ago about the Golden State Warriors, how they’ve maximized production off their players,” Hurdle said. “They’re actually playing less, they’re playing better collectively as a group. So you try to find that right equation as you work forward.”

                Hurdle said that the Pirates watch other sports like the NBA, NFL, and NHL — highlighting the last one as a sport that really excels at knowing when to give guys breaks.

                “We’re looking for how it can apply to baseball,” Hurdle said of the other sports. “You have to continue to try and be creative, to look for different ways to do things, and the model that we have here. And there’s a lot of different ways to learn. And a lot of different examples to learn from.”

                I have this mad idea that if we could get our starting pitchers, say #1-6 or 7 to pitch more over the season at the expense of say our #11-15 guys, we could have overall better pitching in the big context of the season. Now – that’s not going to happen, but it’s been a long winter and I’m getting sick of being balls deep in snow so I have a lot of time to think.

                The Pirates do find themselves in a situation where conceivably they could have 7 very good pitchers. Not using the whole team to do the task would seem to put more pressure on fewer people. More people cooperating on a task makes the task easier, right? IF all your people are qualified…

                I’m just saying that while Worley, in my opinion, is better than Locke, it would be a mistake to exclude Locke from the rotation completely, because he’s a qualified pitcher. Rhamadz (check spelling) Liz could be another. Charlie Morton. And there are decent options in the minors.

                The Pirates are in the rare position of possibly having the deepest pitching in the league right now. I’m thinking about ways to turn that depth into unanticipated benefits.

                Perhaps your idea of piggy-backing pitchers… You’d mentioned resting pitchers by having them go only to the 5th inning… which is done in the low minors a lot… would be a way to correctly rest pitchers. I think you’re saying that with the fatigue of pitching into the 7th, injury and muscle tear down is maybe more likely.

                Well then. If the Pirates didn’t have just 6 starters, but 7, and a shorter, more reliable pen. You could piggy back starters on a more or less regular schedule, shifting which pitchers get the early hook from time to time. THAT’s the incremental rest over time I’m talking about. See, I think that could really help a guy like AJ Burnett over the long term.

                Of course, then you’d have to re-imagine the right uses of the bullpen, which, to me, isn’t a sacred idea, but it would be one of those things that baseball purists would scoff at. “Ha! Old Gallileo Huntington is at it again!” they’d say.

                Seriously. Liriano, Cole, Burnett, Morton, Worley, Locke, Liz, and THEN guys like Pimentel, Cumpton and Taillon and others who look good… I could see the Bucs using a piggy-back rotation and then pairing down to their best 4 or 5 late in the season and having all 4 or 5 cooking with real gas. Look, man, I KNOW it sounds crazy.

                Best to you. And I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.
                ———————————
                “Okay then if you are a DUCK… How come you have such long ears?”
                -Wabbit

                • It’s pretty obvious that they are either going to trade locke or worley. I would put my money on Worley being traded.

                  Teke’s throwing style was unconventional. I don’t know how hard he threw the ball. I don’t know if he suffered any shoulder or elbow discomfort, or where it was located. I would think that instead of tennis elbow, he would be more prone to golfer’s elbow.

                  Pirates draft big heavy pitchers because they throw harder in general. They’re not looking at the weight, they’re looking at the speed of the pitch. At 6 foot 5 inches, 210 pounds, if I could throw 98 mph, I would be in the bucs pen. Actually being less heavy would be an advantage. Your arm weighs less, therefore there is less stress on the rotator cuff tendons of your shoulder. The RTC muscles are the brakes of the throwing arm, and must slow you throwing hand from 90+ mph to zero in a matter of feet. RTC tears can.kill a Pitchers career and lighter pitchers are at lower risk.

                  Elbows are a function of strength of extensor mm group tendon and ligaments. Again, lighter arms would be an advantage.

                  Don’t get me wrong, you should lift weights because the muscle gained and bone/tendon/ligament strength more than offsets the negative effects of add’l weight. But a fully. muscular big guys arm is at more risk than a fully muscular little. guys arm.

                  So, yeah, I kind of know a little of what I’m talking about.

                  I don’t think Jeff locke’s problems late in the season has anything to do with his size. & I don’t think it will be any kind of ongoing problem. I think it’s a fluke that he had problems later in the season two years in a row. Just a fluke. It could become a mental thing now, but it doesn’t appear to be any kind of physical thing.

                  Guys like you talking about it in the media can make it a much bigger thing than it already is. So do him a favor and stop yaking about it.

    • Well if Locke flounders again, or Worley Reverts back to a pumpkin, there’s always AAA pitching available and if it comes down to July/August perhaps Taillon or Kingham will be ready by then though not holding out hope on Taillon because he’s just back from surgery.

    • I will bet on the guy making 2+ mil.

    • Who you callin’ scared?
      -Wabbit

    • Cumpton pitched well also.

  • Tim, might we see a breakout of sorts for Morton? When he has been healthy the last couple of year he has put up solid No. 3 starter numbers. In fact his strikeout numbers really seemed to spike last year. Now the elbow and both hips have been fixed might we see the pitcher who has No. 1 starter stuff begin to emerge?

    • When has Morton ever exhibited #1 Starter stuff on a consistent basis? He’s a middle of the rotation Starter who flashes the occasional brilliant game. He is far too inconsistent to be considered an Ace.

      • I agree he has not shown it on a consistent basis. He also has never really been healthy on a consistent basis. But he does have #1 starter stuff. That is why I called it a potential breakout.

        • A little old for a breakout but I would be happy with a one hit wonder season where it all comes together including some sinkerball luck.

        • Besides more consistent control of his “electric stuff,” Ground Chuck needs to exhibit a stronger backbone when he gets in trouble. Far too often he will be cruising along, and have it all blow up in a matter of moments.

          I’m not sure if one can learn how to have better intestinal fortitude, but for me, that’s the one key ingredient missing in him.

          • Totally agree about the intestinal fortitude issue. That said, the spike in his K rate gives you hope that he can work through some of those issues. Liriano and AJ are perfect examples. Their ability to generate swings and misses gives them an advantage when they struggle with command. Charlie has that swing and miss ability as well. He just hasn’t harnessed it yet. Hope he can. The talent is there.

            • The last time he made a change to his delivery, he had a breakout season. Let’s hope his new and improved delivery produces a similar spike in performance again.

              I think one of the biggest “X” factors in performance at this level is confidence. If he sees some good results early on, it very well may be all he needs to jump his game to the next level.

            • Who cares if they swing and miss Morton…They hit it on the ground to someone other than Alvarez at 3rd base!

              Strikeouts are overrated. An out is an out guys…

      • I agree about his Consistency. He does have “electric” stuff though. He’ll have a great game where he strikes out 9 and barely gives up a hit, but then next game, he gets battered around because he can’t find control. His ERA has never been below 3.00 even in 2011 when he had 110 strikeouts. This could be Great Stuff, but uncontrollable issue that we’ve seen with 2 other pitchers in the Organization though they were probably a bit worse as far as control (Oliver Perez and James McDonald(where is he now?)). But I understand the Potential Breakout and the stuff that could make him a #1 or #2 type starter.

      • They are bringing in fences to produce more HR’s. Sinkerball pitchers will be VALUABLE very soon! NH knows this.

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