Clint Hurdle announced today that Jeff Locke has won the battle for the final starter role over Vance Worley. Locke will begin the year fourth in the rotation, while Worley will move to the bullpen at the start of the year.
The move comes as a surprise, since Worley has looked like the obvious choice to win the job all Spring. He also looked like the favorite due to his numbers in 2014. Worley had a 2.85 ERA last year in 110.2 innings, with a 3.54 xFIP. He looked a lot like the pitcher he was in 2010 and 2011, before injuries wrecked his mechanics. Locke had a 3.91 ERA last year, along with a 3.90 xFIP. However, his numbers were largely due to his first half success. He struggled in the second half for the second straight year.
Locke has looked good the last few outings this Spring, while Worley has struggled a bit recently. Both would be good starting options, but Worley looks like the better of the two, especially if he’s really back to his pre-injury self.
The Opening Day rotation will have Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Jeff Locke, and Charlie Morton. Hurdle said that they would start all five, rather than skipping the fifth spot, which means Cole would line up for the home opener on April 13th.