Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Knowing When to Lift Jeff Locke

If the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to catch the St. Louis Cardinals in the standings Clint Hurdle is going to have to do a much better job of managing the back end of the Pirates rotation. Last night he continued a post All-Star Break trend of leaving back of the rotation starting pitchers in the game to give it away in the middle innings. Last night with the Pirates leading 3-1, Jeff Locke started off the 5th inning by issuing two walks to Cardinals hitters. The writing was on the wall – Locke was about to blow this lead. Yet Hurdle stubbornly refused to activate his bullpen. Locke would manage to finish the inning, but not before handing the lead over to the Cardinals. The Pirates lost the game 4-3 to fall 6 games behind the Cardinals in the standings.
It was painful to watch how Hurdle managed that 5th inning. It was so apparent that Locke should be lifted. If this was an early June game I would understand giving Locke some rope. If the Pirates were AHEAD 5 games in the standings over the Cardinals then it would be ok to try to let Mr. Nibbles chew his way out of the 5th inning. But the Pirates are in chase mode and these head to head match ups with the Cardinals are precious. The way Hurdle managed that game last night was flat out negligence.
Jeff Locke is not an ace. You can’t trust him in the middle innings of a close game in a playoff chase like you would Gerrit Cole. Clint Hurdle is obviously struggling with these kind of managerial decisions. Since I am more about solutions than criticisms I have created this Flow Chart to help the Pirates’ skipper know when to lift Jeff Locke:
jeff locke flow chart



  1. I am glad you mentioned this. It is extremely frustrating for me as a fan to watch Hurdle leave a struggling pitcher in the game and sink the whole team. We get all excited about the Pirates winning, then he leaves the pitcher in till we lose. This has happened so many times. We have a fairly good bullpen. Why does Hurdle leave the pitcher in till the lead is blown and the game is lost? We could probably be in first place if Hurdle would know when to take a pitcher out. This happened last year and the beginning of this year. He seemed to be getting better until last night, when he left Locke in to hang the whole team. This is so obvious that anyone can see the problem, yet not many commentators talk about it. It should be in every news story today about the Pirates. Is everybody afraid of Hurdle? Why doesn’t someone talk to him about it? It almost seems like he’s getting paid to make his own team lose. I hope someone helps him see the light before he blows our play-off chances.

  2. Well, while I dont think Clint is bungling on purpose, everyone watching Locke knows when the guy is not able to find the plate. So we lost a game we should have won, like losing the three extra inning games to them earlier.
    Yes, we should have won.
    Now let’s look at reality as I see it
    The Cubs are going to be the other team in the wild card and so we will have to waste Cole or Liriano in this game
    The Cubs will use Arietta, who has shown already he can shut the bucs down.
    His record, like Wacha is not much different than Cole’s.
    So it becomes a crapshoot because Cole gives up homers, and the Cubs have guys that hit them
    I would be surprised if AJ returns with any effect. One can hope
    I still do not understand why:
    a.Worley is not on the team but Happ is
    b.We dont find out what glasnow can do.
    The team will not be a contender forever. When you have the chance, take it.

    1. Keeping Locke because he’s a lefty over Worley is just plain stupid! If they keep using Locke, we will not be in the playoffs.


    1. Being a 4-inning pitcher is not a bad thing necessarily. Some pitchers are only good for 1 inning. He only gave up 1 run to the Cardinals in 4 innings, which is good. I have not analyzed his pitching record, but like you said, if he’s only a 4-inning pitcher, take him out after 4 innings. It does not necessarily mean that he is a bad pitcher. A good manager recognizes each player’s strengths and weaknesses and utilizes each player’s abilities in the way that will best benefit the team.

  4. Agree with comments. Clunk is either a bad manager or is taking orders from someone above him. At any rate, it is hard to watch. Also, why didn’t he put on a double steal when Cutch came to bat with two on and one out? Or was it none out? He didn’t call that and what happened. Cutch hit into a double play. Uggghhh.

  5. I think that pirates sniper keep the pitcher s to long in the game s pirates pitchers can pass 4 a 5 I think we have in the bullpen that can be used

  6. Let me start out by saying I love the Pirates and have since the age of 8. I am 54 now. However, I can’t keep watching them go bargain shopping every year when they have a legitimate chance to win the World Series. Soria was a good pick up, but the rotation was not addressed even with Burnett ineffective / hurt. The rotation as it stands now is not good enough to win the World Series and most likely will cause the Pirates to fall out of the home wild card, if not both wild cards. So frustrating to be so close and watch them do nothing. Toronto, the Mets, Kansas City all made aggressive moves and are reaping big benefits. The Pirates on the other hand are traeding water. Not fair to Cole, McCutchen, who want to stay, to not field the best team possibe. So frustrating!!

  7. The only thing worse than watching the Pirates loose the lead or the game is listening to Tim Neverett. Am I the only one who feels that way? He tries to assume color commentary and play by play at the same time. Do you always have to give the impression you’re the smartest guy in the booth? I’d rather scratch a chalk board but love the Pirates to much to not listen. Go Bucs!

  8. I think you need to make another flow chart for Clint Hurdle, so he knows when to lift Charlie Morton. Once again Hurdle left a struggling pitcher in the game too long. It’s true that the Pirates were not hitting well against the Marlins on Tuesday night, and they made a couple mistakes, but the game may have been winnable if they had not given up three runs in the sixth inning. Maybe the game would have gone into extra innings. Hurdle cannot expect to catch the Cardinals if he continues to leave struggling pitchers in the game.It would be a terrible shame not to take the World Series this year when the players have worked so hard and they have come so close. Lightening may not strike twice.

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