Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Locked But Not Loaded

I have a love/hate relationship with Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke. I love to call him Mr. Nibbles, but I generally hate how he pitches. With that said I’ve always seen the value that Locke has brought to the Pirates. He is better than the 5th starter that most teams are forced to use. And it is hard to deny that the guy tends to pitch well early in the season. His first half splits over his career are marked with a stellar 3.25 ERA. It is the second half of the year when Locke historically wilts. While many fans wanted to see Mr. Nibbles jettisoned last offseason after a particularly horrendous stretch run in 2015 (5.07 ERA after August 1st), I was happy to see the Pirates keep Jeff Locke in the fold for 2016. Heading into 2016 the Pirates were an organization eagerly awaiting to the arrival of high end pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow. Due to financial implications, further seasoning, and workload management Taillon and Glasnow were not expected to make their way to Pittsburgh until June. Is there a better bridge to this high end talent than Jeff Locke? He is almost a perfect fit. The Pirates could run him out to the mound every 5th day for the first few months of the season when he historically pitches well. And just before he historically hits the wall he could be yanked from the rotation in favor of Taillon or Glasnow. So far Locke has delivered on his end. He is coming off perhaps the finest outing of his career…. a three hit complete game shutout of the Marlins on Memorial Day. Over his last seven starts Jeff Locke has a 3.47 ERA. Among Pirate starting pitchers only Gerrit Cole has been better. But don’t be fooled, Jeff Locke is not loaded! This is his M.O. In all likelihood the wheels are going to fall off for Locke. Just like they did last year. Just like they did in 2014. Just like they did after he earned an all-star bid with a stellar first half in 2013. In the next few weeks Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and perhaps Chad Kuhl will be ready to make their MLB debuts. And when they do that should be the end of Mr. Nibbles in Pittsburgh.
 

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