Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 8/7/12

Chris Leroux has recently been moved into the rotation with Triple-A and could fill a void in the Majors.

Both Chris Leroux and Jeff Locke could fill a role with the Pirates to some capacity in the near future. While the Major League club’s pitching staff had an impressive first half to the season, the second half has seen their shares of ups and downs. With the long stretch of games with no days off and no longer a long man in the ‘pen, Leroux and/or Locke could be promoted to Pittsburgh at some point to help the big league club.

Leroux started the season on the disabled list after suffering a strained right pectoral muscle during a spring training exhibition game in Philadelphia. Over 11.1 innings pitched with Triple-A Indianapolis during his rehab stint, Leroux posted a 3.97 ERA with five walks and eight strikeouts. With already a solid bullpen, the club decided to designate him for assignment, and outrighted him to Triple-A after he cleared waivers.

Leroux made 14 appearances in relief before he was called upon to spot start for Indy after the club dealt away left-hander Rudy Owens. The right-hander tossed five scoreless frames, and has remained in the rotation since.

“It was up to me when I got that first opportunity to prove to them that I could handle it and succeed,” Leroux said. “I knew I could do it, and I know [Triple-A Manager] Dean Treanor knew I could do it. But I had some work to do to prove to the Pirates that I could do it.”

The right-hander has gone on to make two more starts, including a one-hit seven inning gem on Monday night, not giving up a walk while striking out five. Leroux was efficient, needing just 75 pitches, 51 strikes over his seven scoreless frames. He’s allowed just two earned runs over 18.0 innings since moving into the rotation.

“Leroux was stretched out [Monday] night, had a performance similar to [Erik] Bedard’s on a different stage,” Hurdle said. “We’re encouraged by all the progress.”

“I’m feeling way better these days in terms of controlling my pitches and my mechanics than I did last month when I was rehabbing and ultimately got DFA’d,” Leroux said. “That was technically my spring training and [I knew] eventually I would get back to my old self like I have here in the last month. I’m just glad I was given the opportunity to start here in Indy. And if the opportunity arises in Pittsburgh to start, then I’ll have to prove to people that I can do it there just like I have here. If they want me back in the bullpen up there, I would love that too. Anything to get back to the bigs.”

Getting back to the majors for the first time since last season could be in the near future. Since the Pirates traded away Brad Lincoln at the trade deadline, the bullpen has lost their versatile arm in relief. Lincoln served in multiple inning relief, late innings, and even made occasional spot starts. Kevin Correia served in that role once, but is expected to make a spot start on Wednesday.

“We talked about Chris Leroux,” Hurdle said. “He has been moved into the starting rotation to get stretched out.”

Several weeks ago, Hurdle mentioned that left-hander Jeff Locke was also being considered for some spot start opportunities in the Majors. The club then acquired lefty Wandy Rodriguez from Houston, pushing starter Correia into the bullpen. Correia is slated to spot start for the Pirates on Wednesday, but Locke has put up some impressive numbers in Indianapolis worthy of a shot at the big league level.  Pittsburgh is currently on a stretch of 20 games without a day off, which doesn’t end until August 23, and could see some more opportunities to keep the starting five fresh during the final stretch of the season.

“[Leroux] was a name that we considered. Locke is still in play,” Hurdle said. “Those two guys are still making their starts.”

Locke made his Major League debut with Pittsburgh in September last year where he made four starts and posted a 6.84 ERA. He made some adjustments during spring training, incorporating a Ted Lilly style turn to his delivery, and the results have been impressive.

The 24-year-old has posted a 2.66 ERA over 21 starts with Triple-A. He’s walked just 38 batters while striking out 113 over 125.0 frames. He’s had an even better month of August, posting just a 2.12 ERA over five starts proving that he’s ready for the next step.

“Things are going well,” Locke said. “Trying to stay as consistent as I can and keep maturing as a pitcher.”

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo

Dallas Mavericks solidify future with Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan signings

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team


Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Yankees get A-Rod's 3,000th hit ball for $150,000 donation

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Lakers apologize for first, get second meeting with Aldridge

Mike Scioscia: Josh Hamilton should apologize to Arte Moreno

Sacramento Kings continue to be an utter disaster

Remember when the Cincinnati Bearcats were the scariest team in America?

Are the Angels now the worst organization in baseball?

Five reasons the Browns should play Johnny Manziel

Blue Jays need rookies to keep producing for success in 2015

WATCH: Sean Doolittle gets cup check from teammate

University of Florida developing high-tech smart mouth guard

Pat McAfee is the best punter in NFL history

Mets coach on slump: The only thing left is human sacrifice

MLB teams who will continue to surprise in second half

2015 Women’s World Cup Final: The Rematch

Answering the five biggest questions in NBA free agency

Report: Mavericks sign Wes Matthews to four-year contract

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.