Pittsburgh Pirates’ early needs moving towards trade deadline

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Jun 12, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke (49) looks on from the dugout against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fifth starter

Jeff Locke hasn’t been getting it done, plain and simple. Don’t let his most recent performance fool you (six innings of shutout ball): it took him 95 pitches to get through six innings while logging only two strikeouts. Oh, and he was facing the Phillies. It was fluky outside of the result. If and when the Pirates are still in the NL Central division race come late July, they may not be looking to add a starter for a playoff run. With the way their top four is pitching right now (Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Charlie Morton all have ERAs under 4.00), they can go toe-to-toe with any staff in baseball. An additional starter could replace Locke at the back-end of the rotation, provide insurance in case of regression from the top four, and would help the Pirates’ push towards a division crown.

Pittsburgh may not need that fifth starter for the playoffs, but it goes without saying that the team would rather win the division than put its season on the line in a one-game playoff for the third straight season. Plus, a team can never have enough pitching. Needless to say, the occasional good start from Locke isn’t worth the rest of his sub-par performances. An upgrade is needed, and soon. Internal options will be explored first (Vance Worley, Clayton Richard, Casey Sadler, and potentially Jameson Taillon will all be looked at), but external options will be explored as well.

Next: An extra arm for the pen