Pirate General Manager Neal Huntington has confirmed that left handed pitcher Jeff Locke will be in the rotation to start the season. Huntington has also confirmed that left handed hitting outfielder Matt Joyce has made the Opening Day roster.
It is not a surprise to me that Jeff Locke will be in the rotation. Locke has been up and down for the Pirate the past three seasons, but ultimately Locke’s 4.10 FIP and 4.02 xFIP the past three seasons are both very strong for a number four or five pitcher. The Pirates also changed Locke’s delivery this offseason, and will what to see how that plays in the regular season before giving up on him.
Joyce, a former All-Star, is looking to have a bounce back season with the Pirates. This spring Joyce has posted strong numbers owning a .243/.391/.541/.932 slash line with 3 home runs. It is no surprise that Joyce made the team not just because of his strong spring, but also because he will be the only left handed bat on the Pirate bench.
Huntington also said that no decision has been made yet on left handed pitcher Cory Luebke. Contrary to what had been previously reported, today is not the day Luebke can opt out of his contract so a decision is not yet needed. However, due to Jared Hughes starting the season on the disabled list and Rob Scahill and Trey Haley being option to AAA today I expect Cory Luebke to make the team.
The Pirates still have a bench spot, two bullpen spots, and the fifth starter role to fill. I expect Pedro Florimon to get the last bench spot, Kyle Lobstein and Cory Luebke to make the bullpen, and for Juan Nicasio to be the fifth starter while Ryan Volgelson is shifted to the bullpen.