Sep 24, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke (49) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting pitcher Jeff Locke is celebrating his 27th birthday today and there is no better time to look at what the hurler did last season and how it could carry impact the 2015 season.
Locke is coming off a season that established himself as a solid middle rotation pitcher who can be relied on to eat up innings, keep the bullpen rested to some degree and become a trusted pitcher in a playoff series. All of this also makes Locke a great trade piece when the Pirates decide to call up the highly touted prospects from the minors. This makes Locke the key to the rotation next season. Locke — assuming he pitches similarly to last season — will help transition the staff from Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett to Vance Worley and Charlie Morton. Most staffs slide off after the first two pitchers, but Locke offers stability at no. 3.
The Pirates want to call up their prospects at some point next season, but no one in the minor leagues need rushed up. Locke will give the Pirates organization time to evaluate who is ready. When the call-ups do happen, Locke can become a quality trade option.
The Pirates also can keep Locke and take advantage of having a lefty who has the confidence to go up against any team. The National League Central may have best offenses top to bottom in the league. Locke can help the Pirates slow down these teams and when the playoffs are on the line, Locke has proved he does let moment overcome him.
Locke will be entering his year 28 season and it is likely he will be at his best over the next couple of years. The Pirates have a lot of options with him and are in a situation that is basically perfect for a team with arms just waiting to come up.