Found August 18, 2013 on
All season on this site we had been talking about how Jeff Locke was due for regression. The left-hander had an ERA around 3.00, and eventually that dropped as low as 2.01 on June 19th. That would have made him one of the best starters in the majors. His advanced metrics suggested a different story. Locke’s FIP bounced around a lot in the first half of the season, but from the start of June he has been consistently in the 3.70-4.00 range.
The main reason we were saying that Locke would regress was because of that FIP. Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher controls, and removes any outside help that could be influenced by other players on the team, or luck. In this case, Locke was playing above his head, stranding an unsustainable amount of runners.
Lately Locke has seen some struggles. There was the horrible outing today, which James Santelli recapped. There was a four run in four inning game on July 31st. The other starts have been good, but we’re just not seeing the first half Locke who strands everyone and throws seven shutout innings.
I don’t want to excuse Locke’s start today, because it was a horrible outing. It wasn’t just about bad luck either, as James detailed some of the things Locke was doing wrong. That being said, if you remove this start, Locke hasn’t been bad this season. The sentiment that Locke is falling apart lately just isn’t true. The idea that he was struggling before this game is also false.
What is happening is that Locke is finally showing that regression. He’s not getting out of every jam. As a result, he’s actually giving up runs and looking more like a #3-4 starter. If you take out today’s game, in every situation his numbers look fine.
Think he’s struggling since the All-Star break? He’s got a 3.54 ERA in 28 innings.
Second half problems? 3.32 ERA in 40.2 innings since the start of July.
The only way you could get a bad group of starts before this one is if you took the July 31st start where he gave up four runs in four innings, and didn’t include some of the fine starts surrounding that poor outing.
We’re currently on Stage 4 of regression grief for Jeff Locke — depression. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
I see this all the time with regression candidates. It’s almost the five stages of regression grief.
Stage 1 – Denial
Every time you mention that a guy who is performing well will eventually regress, you automatically get people who deny the entire idea of regression. Or they just deny that the player will regress.
Stage 2 – Anger
If you dare bring up the subject more than once, you’ll spark some rage.
Stage 3 – Bargaining
“What if he just knows how to pitch?” “What if he’s the next (Insert pitcher who wasn’t even a regression candidate) who always plays above his head?” “Why can’t he be the exception?” And a bunch of other questions that start to accept that regression is a real thing, but hope that it isn’t real in this case.
Stage 4 – Depression
The player actually regresses. Season over. Pack it up. This guy shouldn’t even be in the majors. Even though we were comparing him to Clayton Kershaw two months ago, he had one bad start and a bunch of “Not Clayton Kershaw” starts to go with it, and that means he should be done for the year.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
We haven’t reached that stage with Locke, but this is the stage where you accept what the pitcher is, and laugh about that time you thought his 2.01 ERA in 89 innings was enough to make him the next Tom Glavine.
Acceptance doesn’t always include rational thinking. If it’s a pitcher like Locke, who has a 3.85 FIP and should be expected to put those results up going forward, then he’s going to get the Video Game/Fantasy Baseball/Charlie Morton Isn’t a Good Pitcher treatment, where every pitcher is expected to have a 3.00 ERA or lower, and anyone who is close to league average is actually someone who should be in the minor leagues.
On the season Locke has a 2.90 ERA and a 3.85 FIP. That includes tonight’s start. I think people are starting to enter the “Depression” stage, with the realization that Locke isn’t going to be a top of the rotation starter. But “regression” doesn’t mean that if a player isn’t a top of the rotation starter he falls to the other end of the spectrum. It just means he regresses to his skill level. In this case, Locke is still expected to put up numbers that are around the league average. He’s got some things to work on to make sure tonight’s start doesn’t happen again (lowering his walk rate would be a good place to start). But Locke is still a major league pitcher, and he’s still a guy with the ceiling of a #3-4 starter. Eventually we can all get to the “Acceptance” stage and realize Locke’s true value.
Links and Notes
**The latest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast is out: P3 Episode 17: The Pirates Issues With RISP, Platoons, and Small Ball.
**Prospect Notebook: What Remaining Minor League Promotions Can We Expect?
**A Quick Look at Tyler Glasnow’s Declining Walk Totals.
**Prospect Watch: Howard Homers Twice, Polanco and Cunningham Go Deep in Altoona Win.
**DSL Prospect Watch: Pirates2 Win Tenth Straight in Shutout Over Braves.
**Minor League Schedule: Sadler Looks to Stay Perfect on the Road.
**Pirates Lose 15-5 as Jeff Locke Falls Apart in 3rd Inning.
**Pirates Notebook: Gerrit Cole Stays in Rotation, But For How Long?
**Agent: Kris Johnson Called Up to Pirates.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jeff Locke was on a fairytale ride with his amazing season, but after the All-Star Break things have gone south for the young lefty.
On Saturday, the 25-year-old lasted 2 2/3 innings and surrendered eight runs on 10 hits and three walks. That was by far his worst outing of the season.
Locke was brilliant for the Pirates during the first half...
Rob Biertempfel reported yesterday that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been scouting Cuban defector Jose Abreu, and will attend a showcase he will hold in September. The Pirates have been mentioned in the past with Cuban players, but they have never been serious bidders. Most of the international signings the Pirates make are off the radar players like Starling Marte ($85,000), Alen...
The Pirates need to stop bunting away outs. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
In the eighth inning of tonight’s game, Starling Marte led off with a bunt single. The score was tied 2-2, and if the Pirates scored a run they would be able to turn to Mark Melancon for the save in the top of the ninth. The Diamondbacks kept left-hander Wade Miley in to face Jordy Mercer, with Andrew McCutchen...
Gerrit Cole has already passed the number of innings he threw in 2012. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
All three times this year Gerrit Cole has pitched on at least a week of rest, he has gotten a quality start. In his nine other starts, he has only four quality starts.
Small sample size, certainly. We do not yet know if Cole is a better pitcher given more rest, and he will even tell...
While there was rightly a lot of focus put on the Pirates' series in Busch Stadium this week, it could be argued that their three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend is actually a little bit bigger. As it stands right now, the Pirates have a pretty firm grasp on some kind of National League playoff spot (the nature of which is to be determined, of course), but...
Below are the top Runs Created* totals in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The rankings include every hitter who had an at-bat for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, not including DSL teams, and with no limitations on whether the hitter has prospect eligibility. Players who spent time at different levels are counted multiple times, once for each level,...
Jeff Locke's All-Star season has helped to give the Pirates one of the most efficient pitching staffs in the major leagues.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, would settle for some stability in their rotation.
Locke takes the mound as the Pirates seeks a seventh straight home victory Saturday while facing Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill, who returns after a nearly seven-week stint...
For a season preview of the Pittsburgh Pirates two Dominican Summer League teams, check out our article here. For a recap of the DSL All-Star game, check out our article here. Throughout the year, we will provide the recaps of both teams, as well as highlight one player each day.
Result: Pirates 7, Angels 2
Starting Pitcher: Miguel Ferreras, RHP (4.15) 5.0...
It’s a day of unknowns in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, with three teams not announcing their Sunday starter yet. We will update this post throughout the day as the starters are named. The GCL Pirates and both DSL affiliates are off today. For a look at the possible starters over the next few weeks, please check out our Probable Pitchers Chart. Check out the Recent Transactions...
The Pirates are one of FOX's "National Games" this afternoon, and I hate to keep harping on this because I know it gets old, but once again the Pirates being a "National Game" is terrible news for Pirate fans, because it means that you can only legally watch the game if you live in the Pittsburgh market or a non-California NL West market. To be quite literal...
Jose Tabata hit the game’s lone homer in the 8th inning for two insurance runs. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
Gerrit Cole’s quality start and the Pirates lineup’s nine hits provided an important 6-2 series-opening win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The victory was Pittsburgh’s 72nd of the season, matching the win total of the 2011 Pirates that collapsed over the season’s...
Normally there are certain time periods for a mass wave of minor league promotions. There’s the pre-season, where players start at new levels. The next wave comes around the middle of June, which is the half way point for the five month minor league season. There can be individual promotions here and there surrounding that period, but you don’t see those chain reaction moves...
Diamondbacks (63-58) at Pirates (72-50)
1:35 PM–PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Yesterday’s loss wiped out most of the good that Friday’s win did for the Bucs, so now they’re set for an important rubber match game this afternoon with Arizona. The Bucs are looking for their first series win in over a week and they are about to go back on the road for a west coast...
In West Virginia tonight, Clay Holmes tries to follow up the six shutout innings he threw last Saturday against Lakewood. Altoona has a doubleheader tonight. For a look at the possible starters over the next few weeks, please check out our Probable Pitchers Chart. Check out the Recent Transactions section to the bottom of this page, for all Pirates minor league transactions. A full...
Jose Tabata hit a two-run homer, rookie Gerrit Cole pitched six solid innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 on Friday night.
Tabata's drive was his fourth of the season and came off J.J. Putz in the eighth inning, putting the NL Central-leading Pirates ahead by four runs. Tabata connected a day after he came off the bench and had three hits in...