What Has Jeff Locke Been Working on Since We Last Saw Him?

Jeff Locke got the call to the majors today, although it doesn’t look like he will be replacing Kevin Correia in the rotation, which is disappointing. We saw Locke in the majors last September, when he put up a 6.48 ERA in 16.2 innings over four starts, along with a 5:10 K/BB ratio.

I talked with Locke at the end of Spring Training about some of the adjustments he was making since his call to the majors. In this notebook at the end of Spring Training, I noted that Locke was adding a Ted Lilly-esque type turn to his delivery. The turn is a bit extreme, to the point where Locke’s back is completely to home plate in his wind up.

I caught up with Locke a few weeks ago in Durham to see his progress with the new change. He noted that the turn has added some deception to his delivery, which has complimented his other pitches well.

Locke has put up some good numbers this year in Triple-A. He has a 3.02 ERA in 47.2 innings, with a 36:10 K/BB ratio. His 1.9 BB/9 ratio this year is down from the 3.2 BB/9 ratio he put up between Double-A and Triple-A last year.

When I saw him in Durham, his command looked good. He had good arm-side movement with his fastball, and was using the pitch to back door some fastballs on the outside corner for called strikes against a lefty-heavy Durham Bulls lineup. He only struck out two batters in seven shutout innings, but didn’t have any issues getting outs on the field, with only one hard hit ball on the day.

I’ve been saying for the last few weeks that the Pirates should replace Kevin Correia. Today would be the perfect time to make the switch, although it doesn’t look like that will happen. If Correia struggles again today, that could open the door for Locke to return to the rotation.

If you’re wondering “why Locke”, the answer is simple. The only other pitchers on the 40-man roster are Bryan Morris, Daniel Moskos, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, and Duke Welker. Morris just threw 2.1 innings in relief last night. Owens and Wilson recently made starts. Welker would be making the jump from Double-A to the majors, after just 30.1 total innings above A-ball. Moskos is currently on the Triple-A DL with a shoulder injury. Outside of clearing a roster spot for one of the Triple-A relievers, the only option was Locke.

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About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • Lee Young

    I still see Locke as a back end of the rotation starter or a lefty in the pen. However, if he ends up LIKE Ted Lilly, I will be ecstatic.