I have a hard time writing about how Jeff Locke should be removed from the rotation.

Locke has been an incredibly frustrating pitcher throughout his career. He shows signs that he’s going to be a reliable MLB starter, and just when you buy in, he does a 180 and struggles. Then, right when you’re about to give up for good, he turns things back around and starts showing his promise again.

This all started in 2013, when Locke had a great first half. He had a 2.15 ERA, although his 4.21 xFIP showed he was due for regression. Still, that 4.21 mark would have been good enough to be a starter in the majors. He did regress in the second half, but had the exact opposite situation. This time he had a 6.12 ERA and a 4.14 xFIP, looking much worse than he actually was.

In 2014, he once again had a good first half, posting a 2.89 ERA. This one was backed by a 3.32 xFIP, and Locke was looking legit. But once again, he struggled in the second half with a 4.66 ERA and a 4.34 xFIP.

Last year he didn’t have such a dominant first half, putting up a 4.03 ERA. That was once again backed up by his 3.96 xFIP. While these results weren’t as good as the previous years, they were still good enough to be in a rotation. But once again, he struggled in the second half, with a 5.10 ERA and a 3.92 xFIP.

Outside of that 2013 first half, all of his good stretches have been backed up with good advanced metrics, making you think that he was finally settling in. Even the 2013 numbers had good enough advanced metrics to make him a back of the rotation starter. Then, the second half rolled around, and his ERA looked like a guy who should be in Triple-A, while his advanced metrics suggested he wasn’t actually that bad. Looking at every single xFIP above, you’d take that starter in the Pirates’ rotation right now.

Unfortunately, the Pirates don’t have the old Jeff Locke. This year’s version has seen the same ups and downs, only in a much shorter time span. We’re not talking a good first half and a bad second half. We’re talking two excellent starts, and two horrible starts. And during that process, it’s easy to get caught up in the season and give another chance when a good start comes along, and start to question him when a bad start comes up. But this can create a situation where Locke is in the rotation until he puts together enough poor outings in a row to get the boot, and he never seems to do that.

I don’t think this is the best way to evaluate Locke, even though I’ve been sucked into this approach this year as well. At this point, the best thing to do would be to step back and look at the big picture.

The big picture? Jeff Locke is showing very little reason to be in the Pirates’ rotation right now.

Locke has a strange trend this year where he has put up some of his worst career starts, and some of his best career starts. He pitched a shutout in Miami on May 30th. He gave up one run in seven innings against the Dodgers and pitched 6.2 shutout innings against the Giants in back-to-back starts at the end of June. On the flip side of this, there have been five starts this year (including tonight) when he gave up 5+ runs in less than five innings.

Taking a step back, one key thing to notice about Locke is that he has seen a big drop in his strikeouts this year. He used to be in the 16-17.5% range. Now he has dropped to 12.2%. The walk rate is down at 7.4%, which is just above his career best of 7.3% in 2014. But the lack of strikeouts makes him a guy who is relying too much on pitch-to-contact.

Let’s go back to those successful games this year. That shutout in Miami? One strikeout. The seven innings against the Dodgers, and 6.2 against the Giants? Three strikeouts each. The outings where he gave up 5+ runs in fewer than five innings? Tonight was the only one of the five starts where he struck out more than three. The K/9 is higher in those starts, but he’s facing about the same amount of batters.

Locke is no longer throwing his curveball. He has thrown the pitch 24 times this year. That’s 1.5% of the time. He threw the pitch 15.9% of the time last year. His fastball usage has gone up slightly, and his changeup usage has gone up from 22% to 28%.

Throughout his career, Locke’s best pitch for swinging strikes was his changeup. He has a career 19.6% swinging strike rate on the pitch. For some reason, that is down to 15.2% this year. His curveball was his second best pitch, getting a career 13% strikeout rate, which is about the same this year at 12.5% in the limited usage.

Locke’s curveball previously got his best results, with a .568 OPS. His changeup had a .742 career OPS. This year that changeup is up to an .801 OPS.

It’s easy to see what is going on here. Locke’s most effective pitches were his changeup and curveball. The curveball has been scrapped, and the changeup has regressed this year. Maybe that’s because of the new delivery. It was aimed at giving him better control, and he’s had that, but the impact on his pitches is a question mark. Maybe the changeup is less effective now because he’s basically a two-pitch pitcher.

Either way, this version of Jeff Locke should not be in the rotation. Whatever hope might have existed from the previous version of Locke, that should be gone now. This version isn’t throwing one of his best pitches, and the best pitch has declined this year. As a result, he’s a pitch-to-contact guy with two pitches, and a lot of his best results coming thanks to his defense. Only four of his 17 starts this year have produced an xFIP below 4.00, and that doesn’t include his shutout, or two of his four games where he went seven innings. Meanwhile, tonight was his tenth start with an xFIP over 5.00.

There’s no sign of regression here. You can’t point to past success and expect the same going forward. This is a completely different pitcher, and one who shouldn’t be in the rotation, especially when so many prospects are knocking at the door. Maybe those prospects won’t be reliable from start to start, but that would be due to age and experience, and not due to relying on BABIP and defense with a reduced arsenal. Perhaps Locke could work out in the bullpen as a two-pitch guy, and a long reliever, but he’s clearly not working out in the rotation, and it’s time for him to be replaced.

**The mid-season top 30 Pirates prospect list is currently being finalized, and will be written up tomorrow, to be posted on Friday. If we only went with tiered rankings, it would be up tomorrow, or maybe even today. But we’re doing a 1-30 list, because people love lists. We’ll have the tiers as well, because those are so much better. As for tomorrow, we’ll just have more great individual prospect features.

**Jeff Locke Struggles Again in Pirates Loss to the Brewers. Alan Saunders has a live recap of tonight’s game, and the comments from Clint Hurdle can’t be good for Locke’s future in the rotation.

**Pirates Notes: Cervelli and Polanco Back in the Lineup Again Tonight; Taillon and Stewart Updates. Good to see Cervelli and Polanco looking healthy.

**Prospect Watch: Vogelsong Leaves Start Early Due to Tight Neck. Brian Peloza with the live report on Vogelsong, who was getting close to a potential return to the majors. Also, live reports from Sean McCool in Altoona, and Abigail Miskowiec in West Virginia.

**Pirates Activate Elias Diaz from Disabled List and Option Him to Indianapolis. Not much of a change for Diaz, except that he’ll stop getting MLB service time now.

**The Change in Approach That is Leading to Better Results For Max Moroff. Brian Peloza writes about the change Max Moroff made that has led to better results the last two months.

**Stephen Tarpley Has Improved Secondary Stuff, Needs Consistent Fastball Command. Stephen Tarpley is showing better off-speed stuff, but his fastball command hasn’t been consistent this year.

**Frank Duncan Placed on the Indianapolis DL With a Minor Hand Injury. Brian Peloza breaks down the injury, with all parties in Indianapolis expecting Duncan back soon.

**Morning Report: Catching Up with the Young Pirates from South Africa. John Dreker looks at Vince Deyzel and Victor Ngoepe, the two recent signings out of South Africa.

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97 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t remember the pitcher back in the dark days who was like this… Kip Wells maybe? He’d pitch well enough just often enough to stick around but never got consistent. Anyone else think of a guy like this down the road in Pirates’ history?

    -Wabbit

  2. I even thought Locke threw a few nice changes early in the game last night and he was hitting 93. But a guy not throwing a breaking pitch for a strike who is in the low 90’s is bound to nibble with two ok pitches…and get shelled when he gets behind and has to throw strikes. It’s the whole doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results thing. This is the Pirates with Locke…and they obviously are insane.

  3. My question is why did they scrap the curveball? If it was because he can’t throw it with the new mechanics, then they shouldn’t have tried the new mechanics. You don’t take away a pitcher’s best weapon.

    No wonder he’s been so bad. He doesn’t have his best pitch anymore.

  4. Lets hope NH does not trade some of these pitching prospects for a midlevel starter with one year remaining on his contract thinking that will be the cure for what ails this ball club. Bring up the kids and lets see what they can do. Really they can only be as bad as what the team currently has and maybe much better than that. So give them a chance. If this is the bridge year then let them start the construction.

    • I agree, they can use the half year of the majors to make sure they know what they have for next year. Although who would have thought Lariano and Cutch would have been the two biggest disappointments this year.

  5. I keep checking back every hour hoping to see that he is DFA’d. That said he seems like a nice guy and I wish him the best of luck trying to get it all together.

    • With them still trying to trade Niese, they would not DFA him until they needed another starter. Actually I wouldn’t be surprised to see a random injury and trip to the DL for shoulder fatigue or something like that first. They could almost hide him that way until September callups but def past the trade deadline.

  6. Locke is a nibbler, if he gets the strike two inches off the plate he has a good day, if the strike is not given to him he has a bad day. My conclusion is if he ever pitches in Pittsburgh again it should be for a store opening.

  7. Well Pirates might be in trouble. Rob Manfred is talking about limited relief pitcher use because they slow down the game and “rob action”. Scary thought with the pitchers we have today.

  8. Please act at least like you want to get to playoffs , sellout crowd for a team 3 games over 500 they need to step it up Huntington whom i like Hurdle Nutting whom i do not like . Get Locke out of the rotation Cole, Liriano,Taillon,Glasnow,Kuhl. And let the chips fall where they may.

  9. Teams still want arms and Locke and Niese have appeal to someone. Jaso at 4 million next year is a much tougher deal to make. By the first of August, NH either makes the moves necessary to build the roster for the next number of years or he continues the BS of being an also ran. For me position the team for success by committing to the talent and not some collection of mediocre talent. If Bell is not starting at 1st in August, then the duo of Freese and Jaso will indicate Hurdle and NH just won’t risk today for a much better tomorrow. Cubs are just going to be a dominant team and only big time talent can compete. You can’t beat them with Jaso, Locke and below the line pitching.

    • 4 mil is nothing for a solid first basemen like Jaso, even if he is nothing more than a platoon or utility guy. Even mid size markets wouldnt even blink at that figure. I would think he could bring a B level prospect, or a decent bullpen arm.

  10. It’s sad that this poor pitching is going to waste one of the deepest teams – position player wise – in recent memory. The FO has to act, like yesterday, and bring in the young guns from AAA to try and salvage this season.

  11. I’ve supported keeping Locke in the rotation but last night was quite frustrating. In his defense (but it’s a weak one), he hadn’t pitched in about 10 days so perhaps that threw off his mechanics.

    That said, I can’t help but wonder if he’s a better fit in the pen and if things might work out similar to how things have worked out for the Cubs new acquisition (Montgomery). Thing is, we don’t need Locke and Niese in the pen so one will need to be traded or released.

  12. I remember back in 2013 when he had the good record, I told a friend that I didn’t understand it, as balls were being hit hard against him, but many times right at someone. Obviously, it caught up to him.

  13. Your timing is right on Tim. I also have finally had enough hope crushed by Locke’s struggles, to give up the goat with him. Especially now that there are 4 legit options in AAA ball.

    It’s almost hard to fathom calling up Taillon, and there are still 4 legit starting pitcher prospects aproaching ripeness at Indi.

    Such riches NH and company have brough us…

  14. At this point in the season Locke simply cannot start again. There are too many other options (Kuhl, Glasnow or Brault) on the team now and I believe NH has to go trade for another pitcher.

    Cole -Liriano-Taillon- are the top three. After that? I’d go with Glasnow as it is time to see what he has.

    As to a trade it is time to go and get an upgrade that is signed for at least next year too. Kuhl Brault Williams can be dealt along with other positional prospects.

    • I’d use one of the 3 plus position prospects to land a SP. Hanson I’m willing to bet will almost certain be in any deal, along with Diaz.

  15. Being an optimist, I find myself being a Locke supporter/apologist from time to time. But I think it’s time to pull the plug and go a different route.

    It’s one thing to be inconsistent if your stuff is electric (see Glasnow), but if your stuff is pedestrian and your inconsistent, you need to be a LOOGY.

  16. Yeah, it’s time. I’ve been a huge supporter of Locke as a 4th or 5th starter, and an extra left hander in the rotation. Can’t do it any more. Other people have already run the numbers better than I can while pretending to work. So I’ll just say this – put him in the pen, Schugel back to AAA, bring up Brault for a spot start, and proclaim that after the spot start, this is Kuhl’s or Glasnow’s spot to lose. Personally, I haven’t been impressed with Glasnow all year – after waiting with baited breath for him for what seems like forever – so I’d prefer Kuhl. But either way, that answers some rotation questions, gets the Bucs closer to 2017’s rotation, and maybe lets other pitchers know that this is about results, rather than contracts.

      • Neither Locke nor Niese has any value whatsoever as a trade candidate. If you were a contender, would you think that either one would make you a better team? No. If you were rebuilding, would you think either one would be part of your future? No. Which is why they have no trade value whatsoever. Just DFA them already, maybe we’ll get lucky and someone will pick them up on waivers and pay their salary for the rest of the season.

        • I see your point. The only rebuttal I would offer is Niese has proven he can be effective, whereas Locke is only effective when he has a low BABIP. Teams often think they can fix SP’s who have fallen on hard times. Pirates don’t have an exclusive license in this department you know.

          • If you were a fan of another contending team and you found out that they had just acquired Jonathan Niese from the Pirates, what would your reaction be? The only NL team that might even possibly consider Niese is the Marlins. Maybe the Orioles and the Rangers in the AL. Of course, the comments that NH recently made about Niese probably ruined whatever trade value he might have had.

            • Look at Pirates acquisition of Happ last season at deadline for a comparison. As contenders with SP depth concerns see the list of available arms shrink, one may look towards Niese. That’s all I’m saying could happen. I don’t for a minute think Pirates will get much value for him if he is traded.

            • See JA Happ from last season as a comparison. Nearly every Pirates fan was upset when he was acquired.

  17. Bucs basically now need to go 4-2 for rest of the homestand or it will widely be acknowledged as a failure. Ideally, a 6-2 record would’ve been the goal. A 4-4 would be a disaster in context. Unfortunately, I don’t see 4-2 happening, short of a miraculous turnaround by Frankie in both his scheduled starts. Also need to see a solid Cole start. Starters have to start getting into (and through) the 7th on a regular basis as the pen is once again showing leaks when forced to cover 5-6 innings.

  18. I know this will fall on deaf ears, but how long will we continue to experiment with Jeff Locke in the 2nd half of the season?? From his All Star 1st half in ’13, this is the 4th season we are rolling with this guy who has shown us the last 3 years that he does not have it in the 2nd half. I don’t have the numbers, but I do have the memory of this happening this last 3 years!! With all the babies in Triple A, I am baffled that we have not figured this easy problem out!! Now I am nowhere near the Advanced Metric Guy and being a coach, I know management will hide behind these numbers to protect Jeff!! But this is a Clear EYE SORE that you can’t hide and really needs to be addressed if we want to make a run. How can you have guy like Taillon who was at 65 pitches THRU 6 INNINGS!! Begging Clint to send him out in the 7th, to Jeff at 80 pitches in 3+??? It just doesn’t make sense!! I get given opportunities in the 1st half to clean things up, but if you are preaching every nite making a run and making the playoffs, you cannot support this obvious train wreck when we have 2,3,4 options that would be clearly better in your own Farm System!! You don’t have to make a trade. It’s making the not so tough decision to move on from Jeff!!! You know I always wondered why Jeff gets a sort of a “get out of jail free card”, him and NH are from New Hampshire!!! I know i am reaching, but just trying to find anything to find out why management can’t see with 3 YEARS of 2nd half results, that is a flaming train burning down the track!!

  19. When does McCutchen get a long rest or trip on DL.? -0.4 WAR this year. Something needs to be done to try and get him out of this.

  20. Can anyone actually say that Locke is a better option than Kuhl/Brault at this point? There’s no justification leaving him in the starting rotation at this point trying to win a wild card spot. John Jaso was a good stop gap at first base, but it’s time to give Bell to take over. Jaso has been in a slump since June. I understand the defense needs addressed with Bell, but in all reality no matter if it’s bell or jaso at first they’re only going to play 6 innings anyways with Hurdle putting sean-rod there every night.

    • I would say Jaso is a better option that Cutch right now. Bring Bell up and move Marte to Center, Polanco to Left and Bell to Right. Bell can spell Jaso here and there at First and have Frazier play Right. Cutch is a gaping hole in Center… no arm or range currently and his bat is terrible. 30 day DL would suite him fine.

      • One problem with that is there is no 30 Day DL and the pirates need Cutch to turn it on to make a push in October. I don’t know the cause of the problem and frankly I don’t think the Pirates do either.

  21. I am going to sum this up plain and simple. I think we can get a 5.54 ERA out of either Kuhl, Brault, or Glasnow. Hopefully better and at least at the end of the year we gained something in them getting experience and working out bugs. I was a fan of Jeff Locke over the years yes he was frustrating but even at last years 4.49 ERA that is good enough to be a #5 starter (this year it might put you near our ace, just saying) but at 5.54 on a contending ball club for a guy that at this point do you see any chance they bring him back…. He is arbitration eligible again, and likely regardless of performance to see a decent bump. I hate to say it, but best choice here is a DFA if someone takes him good for him otherwise he goes to AAA and maybe gets moved to the pen and can show that he has a future there. Frees up the 40 man spot for Vogey to come back and at this point I would say he would be an upgrade to the starting pitching. Still need the #5 starter so any of the above 3 I mentioned, leaning more towards Kuhl, or Brault based on what I have seen and let Glasnow work more on the control in AAA. Next year would start to set up very nicely. Cole, Taillon, Liriano, Glasnow, and Kuhl with spot starts due to injuries from Brault, and WIlliams, Then Liriano comes off the next and Brault is back full time. Stage is set for good potential few years. Just this year is frustrating and I hate to see it wasted at this point on someone who does not fit into the future plans. Vogey at least deserves a chance to see if he can help get us in the post season but in my mind he has a short leash.

    • Like Samson, the biblical Hercules, Locke gets his power and strength from his long hair-locks. It works for him on-camera in the dugout but fails on the mound.

  22. Does anyone know the percent of wins for the team when Locke starts? How does that compare to other starters on the team and league wide? Just curious. Anyway, he frustrates me to the point that I won’t watch when he pitches. He’s too inconsistent.

  23. This article is at least a month too late….the price for stubbornly keeping guys like Locke and Niese in the rotation is a lost season.

  24. Tim,
    This is compelling and concise. A few good outings followed by disasters do not justify a regular spot in the rotation. A two-pitch guy with no control should not be in a contender’s rotation……….particularly a contender with multiple other options. I would add that Locke does not seem to have the competitive fire that I see in Kuhl and Brault. It is frustrating to see such extreme inconsistency and the laissez faire attitude that accompanies it.
    Robin lost his Batman and its time to close the book on this story.

  25. CONGRATS!!! They were talking about you guys on the Pirates Broadcast last night. Mentioned Pirates Prospects.

  26. I like Jeff Locke! From his skater boy wavy curly hair to his winsome smile. To his ability to imitate a MLB pitcher. He is an All_Star. But if he was on my team he would not be!

    • Locke is where he is at because the Pirate Rotation has been terrible this year. He has a 0.2 WAR at this point (about $1.6 mil), which is break even for a guy only making $3 mil. Our No. 1 has been hurt. Our No. 2 SP, Liriano has a -0.2 WAR. Since he is making $13 mil, that means we are paying him about $14.6 mil at this point. Then No. 3 was Jon Niese who has a -0.4 WAR, and since he is making $9 mil this year, we are essentially paying him $12.2 mil at this point.

      It is too easy to just say we need to kick Locke to the curb. Can we go out and buy some more repair jobs? I sure as hell hope not. We can sit forever talking about whether our AAA Prospects will translate to MLB pitching and playing, but we will never know if we do not go all in. It is time to go after this season and our future with young, enthusiastic players and pitchers from our Farm System.

      • You got what I was thinking much better than I could have. (Except for the WAR stuff).

        It’s time to play what you have, or what you have down on the farm. Not only with pitching, but Bell too. While things should change, give Frazier some time at 2nd and let him leadoff.

        Heaven knows what to do with Cutch, but there wouldn’t be a terrible backlash stowing him on the 15 day DL.

        • Frazier was a SS, but then the Pirates moved him to the OF. He can probably play 2B in a pinch, but we probably have many more better MI than he. Hanson is probably the best defensively, but he has gone in the tank with an 0 for 15 after the AAA AS Game. I would bring him up and let him seize the opportunity or enhance his trade value. He has the speed if he can get on base.

          When ‘Cutch starts to hit the ball to CF and RC with authority he will be back – he has fallen into a pull-happy power swing that usually results in taking your eye off the ball before contact.

  27. I couldn’t agree more. It was obvious from the very beginning that Locke sucked tonight. There is absolutely no point whatsoever in keeping Locke, Niese and Jaso on the team. If we are serious about trying to contend this year all three should be gone tomorrow. Bring up Bell, Glasnow, Kuhl and see what they can do. Even if they don’t make the difference this year at least we’ll have a better idea what to expect from them next season. I couldn’t believe that they left Locke in for two more batters after he walked the pitcher to start the 4th inning. Incredibly frustrating to watch.

            • Your missing the point. He was optioned but he is still with the team physically in person his body unless he has a doppelganger. Or what Sean meant he at least still was yesterday.

              • According to the Indy website, Kuhl is scheduled to start there on Saturday. Would be pretty difficult for him to still be in Pittsburgh and starting in Indy.

                • While he may now be back in Indy. It actually wouldn’t be that odd. He could stay in Pittsburgh and spend time working with Searage and head back on Friday night in advance of his start on Saturday. Pirates still have TBD for Saturday too. So if someone was to go on the DL then Kuhl can be re-added and make that start in Pittsburgh. So again its not hard to believe. In fact when pitchers are on rehab assignments a lot of times between starts they come back and spend their rest days with the Major League club. If it was Saturday I would agree with your statement but since its only Friday morning now. It would still be possible for him to be in Pittsburgh. I haven’t seen him but the point that was being made is he can still physically be in Pittsburgh. He was Physically still there as of Wed though. The only thing he cant do is be in the Dugout during the game since he is not either on the 25 man or the DL. Although there is some rule about an extra player being there for a day or 2 if there is a risk of an injury but I don’t know how that part works. He could be in the clubhouse and even participate in pregame bp, fielding practice, instructionals, ect….

                  • Kuhl was optioned to Indy. So my original statement that he should be called up is correct. Where he is physically located is irrelevant, what is relevant is whether he is on the 25 man roster or not. And currently he is not on the 25 man roster.

                    • OK How about this. BOTH arguments were correct. I was simply backing up Sean’s statement that he was still in Pittsburgh, I will use this as an example. AJ Shugel was optioned back to Indy remained in Pittsburgh and then was added back to replace the injured TG. I never was questioning your point of whether he should be on the 25 man roster. Players do sometimes remain in Pittsburgh even when they are not on the 25 man roster especially pitchers as they wont be physically playing in Indy anyway. I never once argued he should not be called up. No need to get upset we all are Pirates fans here. If you took my posts as an insult I am sorry never were meant to be that way.

    • Given how Tim framed his post, it would appear Locke is now a “reclamation project”. Some team could help him revert back to his old delivery, find his curveball and have themselves a cheap back end starter. So he should have some value going forward with two years of control remaining.

      That team is not the Pirates, not with Glasnow, Kuhl and Brault in the wings.

      As far as Jaso, there’s not much of a market. Maybe only 2-3 teams tops, one being Oakland, which already let him go. And as far as Niese goes, he’s expensive for a long reliever, but for the moment, he’s the best 2nd LH option the Bucs have and he’s doing perfectly fine in that role. No reason to jettison him until he becomes a liability in the pen. Not like Bucs would be getting anything back for him, so might as well keep him as long as he’s doing well there. He did shave his head, after all!

      • The pitching coach [forgot his name] and Jim Benedict had several years to fix Jeff Locke and they couldn’t do it and you could add Morton with him. They had no trouble fixing Volquez, Happ, and Liranio but not these two. They just didn’t have it and their problem may have been between the ears.

        • I like how no one ever mentions how guys with Locke’s total lack of stuff often flame out before ever making the majors.

          “Failing to fix Locke” rather than possibly making Locke millions when he easily could have been a guy who never makes it beyond AA or AAA with average stuff and lacking command.

          Locke sucks this year, and has never been more than a fringe back end SP. But its entirely possible if he stayed with ATL he continues to suck as he had.

    • Locke has some trade value, as does Jaso. OTOH, Niese has little value.

      Bell needs time at the ML level.

      • What would Jeff Locke, or Jaso, bring in return? By themselves, I cannot imagine it would be much more than C/B prospect if they are lucky to get that….but, I would take it in either case…

        • If Locke were a RH, he’d be history I think.
          Jaso has the “veteranosity” thing in his favor. Plus, he’s a LH hitter.
          Packaging either with a prospect, might get a fair return.

          • We could use a second good LH reliever, like the one the Cubs just stole from the Mariners….maybe Jaso and Locke/Niese/prospect could net one?

            • Stole? Vogelbach is a good 1B prospect, that’s a solid return for a reliever. He has much more value than a Jaso/Locke/Neise combo.

              I’m always amused by “these guys are terrible, lets package them for someone good”

            • LHP Mike Montgomery. A Hart High graduate.
              As is Tyler Glasnow, Bob Walk and this writer.
              I have the pleasure of meeting them at Hart baseball reunions in Newhall, California.

  28. Amen.. I’m waiting for the Locke defenders to add last nights game to the “if you remove that start from his ERA” argument. Since the all star break in 2013, his era is over 4.80. At some point FIP, XFIP become irrelevant when the sample size is so large. The results are what they are. It’s time to get both Kuhl and Glanow in the rotation for good. Also, I am dumbfounded how Josh Bell is in AAA, appearantly due to his defense, when his bat could clearly help this team. Is he that poor at 1st base? The idea that management doesn’t want to risk his defense hurting the team – yet management has no issue trotting out Locke, and until recently Niese, every 5 days, makes no sense to me. A starting pitcher has a much greater impact on the game than the fielding of a 1st basemen. Jaso has been mediocre since April/May, and we clearly have other pitching options.

    • I agree with what you are saying about all of these guys. I have never liked locke at any point of him being with the pirates, and i have been calling for the prospects to be in the lineup on a consistent basis as well. I’d rather see them pitch and have those results than watching locke or neise do it who have been around for awhile now. With bell i can see a little as to why they are holding him back, his defense at 1b. last I saw I think he had 11 errors at first. His bat has been great in AAA and for those 4 at bats with the pirates, but who is to say that will continue in the MLB as a regular starter.. Jaso has been better than anyone could of thought so to pull the leash on him is nonsense. Having said that I could live with bell being up here starting every now and then and coming off the bench for sure

      • Bell’s place with the PBC shouldn’t be on the bench.
        Jaso gave it the old college try, but he has had quite the dry spell.

        • It’s time to reset, become sellers at the deadline, Meloncon, Freeze, Joy and Jaso should be shopped. If you could unload Niese and Locke then do so. Play the kids and see how they do the rest of the way. Sometimes punting is the best play and the games might be more exciting to watch with the kids anyway.

        • I like Jaso. I liked him on the Rays. He lives 15 miles down the road from where I live, and I would love him on the Pirates if they didn’t have potentially the next Eddie Murray sitting at AAA going to waste. I would say Jaso would be nice off the bench…but they have Joyce and Sean Ruthriguez so I don’t think Jaso has a spot if Bell starts.

      • Jaso on base % is below .275 this month…for a lead off hitter, that is terrible.
        That’s not better than I envisioned when they signed him.

        • Yeah, he was so patient at the plate in April. Lately, he has been swinging at garbage out of the zone. When he does make contact, he’s way out front, hitting weak grounders into the shift. I like Jaso. He’s a marked improvement (defensively) over what we had last year, but I really think you have to get Bell’s bat into this lineup.

        • Well, he should have never been the regular leadoff guy. I like him at leadoff once and awhile on good matchups but sometimes you need a guy that can get himself to second base or better more in front of your best hitters.

      • Agree with your opinion of Jaso if we are talking April and May, but in Jun and Jul he has not been good enough to stay in the lineup:
        April .845 OPS 9W/8K,
        May .775 OPS 7W/15K,
        Jun .609 OPS 10W/15K
        Jul .525 OPS 1W/10K
        It is not only him, there are others in the starting lineup who started well and are now struggling.

        • fwiw, Jaso has a long history of peaks and valleys. He’s had a ton of instances of an .800+ OPS month followed by a stinker, then bouncing back. Not saying he’ll do that again, but that’s been his M.O. most of his career.

          • bucs: I think it is fatigue. He only played parts of 8 games last year on defense – the rest of his AB’s were as a DH. He is well beyond his number of AB’s from last year and playing full time defensively for 4 months is a lot more than parts of 8 games the year before. And, he will turn 33 shortly. I think we have gotten anything he had to give.

      • Agree with emjayinTN – Bell has by far the higher ceiling, and clearly more power even now, it’s time to get him going in the Majors. I think the pirates can fetch a decent relief pitcher or prospect for Jaso, given he has a pretty team friendly contract.

    • Great post & I think that’s the sound of crickets from the Locke loyalists: “But wait, if you just close your eyes and ignore all his horrible starts, he’s actually one of the best pitchers in MLB history.” I got attacked almost a month ago for suggesting we get ahead of the curve, swapping out Kuhl for Locke instead of sitting back & waiting for Locke to implode, which we all know would happen. Too often (niese too) the decision is made 2-3 starts too late. We can’t afford to write off games – as yogi said, it’s getting late early

    • Oh and I was a Locke “defender”. I officially pronounce his Bucs starting pitching career as failed and over. You and yours were right.

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