By Jason Shetler
After a terrific first half two years ago in which he made the All-Star team, Jeff Locke struggled miserably in the second half. So much so that he wasn’t even placed on the postseason roster. He began last year pitching for AAA Indianapolis, and was recalled by the Pirates midseason, but put up mediocre second half numbers again. Heading into Spring Training this season, Locke was in competition with Vance Worley for the fifth starter spot. The Pirates made a surprising decision by choosing Locke over Worley, despite the fact that Worley had the third best WAR among Pirates pitchers in 2014. Locke held his own in the first half, but once again the second half has presented more problems for him. Here are Locke’s second half figures since 2013.
5.55 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, .290 opp avg
While it’s true that most clubs don’t have an outstanding fifth starter, Jeff Locke’s numbers especially in the second half are too inconsistent to even be in the back end of the rotation. Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review mentioned on Twitter last night that Locke has made just two quality starts since June 17th. That obviously gives you an idea of how much he’s really struggled over the last two plus months. The Pirates now have Radhames Liz on the roster, and should have Worley soon. Both at this point would be upgrades over Locke in the rotation.
The Pirates will have to make a decision on Locke this offseason since he’ll be arbitration eligible for the first time. Do they decide to bring him back to perhaps compete in a bullpen capacity or do they non-tender him altogether?