Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/16/14

After the Wandy Rodriguez trade was made, I wrote about how I wasn’t a fan of the deal. It wasn’t that I thought Rodriguez was a bad player. I think he can be a good pitcher for the Pirates down the stretch, and for the next few years. I didn’t like the deal for two reasons.

First, I didn’t like that the Pirates gave up Robbie Grossman to get Rodriguez. I can live with dealing Rudy Owens or Colton Cain away, but Grossman was putting up the same numbers in Double-A that he put up in Bradenton last year. The Pirates currently have one established outfielder in the majors, and Grossman looks like a guy who is a year away from getting a shot, in a best case scenario.

A bigger reason why I didn’t like the deal was that I felt Wandy Rodriguez was no longer the pitcher that people think of when they hear his name. He’s no longer the high strikeout left-hander who puts up nearly a strikeout an inning, with a decent walk rate. He’s lost about two strikeouts per nine innings the last few years, increased his ground ball ratio, and dropped a walk per nine innings. That’s still a very good pitcher, but one that’s easier to obtain.

I was thinking about that tonight. Rodriguez gave up three runs in seven innings, striking out four. It wasn’t a horrible start, but he had two really bad pitches that cost him — a hanging breaking ball to Chris Heisey, and a home run to Mat Latos. But that’s not why I was thinking about how a pitcher like the current version of Rodriguez is easier to obtain.

Down in Triple-A, Jeff Locke had a dominant start. He pitched 7.1 shutout innings, giving up three hits and two walks, while striking out ten. He did this against a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team that ranks third in the international league in OPS. And this isn’t new for Locke. On the season he has a 2.66 ERA in 125 innings, with a 113:38 K/BB ratio. He throws 88-92 MPH with his fastball, usually sitting toward the top of that range. He throws a big breaking curveball, and he’s added a ton of control to his pitches this year with a new turn to his delivery.

Locke is major league ready right now. He wouldn’t have cost any prospects. He would be making the league minimum next year, rather than taking up $8 M in payroll with the Pirates projected to spend $63 M before any off-season additions. And there’s a good chance that he can be just as good as Rodriguez is right now.

The knock against Locke is his lack of experience. You don’t know what you’re going to get, which isn’t a situation you want to put yourself in during a playoff race. But what’s the price of adding an established player? It seems that three prospects, $8 M in payroll in 2013, and a potential $7.5 M in 2014, is a lot to spend when you’ve got a guy in Triple-A who looks like he could be just as good.

The Pirates are expected to use a spot starter over the next 20 games, giving their rotation a break. Jeff Locke should be that spot starter. It would give them a chance to see what Locke can do in the majors. It’s too late to give him that shot this year and avoid adding Rodriguez. But giving him a spot start and a chance in the majors this year could add some comfort for next year, when the projected Opening Day rotation looks to be one man short, and could definitely use Locke in the mix.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates lost to the Reds 3-0.

**Pirates Notebook: Game One Against Reds Ends in Emotion From McCutchen; Pirates Shuffle Rotation.

**Prospect Watch: A Good Night For Pitchers With Locke and Kingham Leading the Way.

**Locke Wins Pitching Duel, Strikes Out 10.

**Ryan Hafner Struggling With His Control This Year.

**Minor League Schedule: 8/4/12.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Bucs believed to be going for Marcus Mariota with No. 1 pick

Report: Wrigley Field renovation causing massive rat problem

Rex Ryan praises Patriots, calls Deflategate 'unfortunate'

Brady hopes Peyton Manning comes back next season

Report: Thibodeau’s relationship with Bulls 'beyond repair'


Joe Montana pins blame for Deflategate on Tom Brady

NFLPA boss: No Deflategate interviews until after SB

Blandino: Deflategate no sting; PSI in footballs not logged in

Aaron Hernandez’s DNA found on bullet casing, joint near body

Thomas upset he was tested for PEDs over health statement

Marshawn’s press conference to end all press conferences

WATCH: Katy Perry cracks Deflategate, Marshawn jokes

Devon and Leah Still write a book for kids fighting cancer

Five potential heroes of Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Timberwolves throw shade at Kevin Love in promo

Tom Izzo: 'The Twitter' may have affected team's confidence

Measles outbreak hits Arizona days before Super Bowl

Proposed pace-of-play rule changes, by the numbers

Super Bowl XLIX should smash TV viewership record yet again

NFL, officials, Carroll disagree on ineligible player rules

Seattle business rolling 12,000 joints for Super Bowl

How Yardbarker got Marshawn Lynch to open up back in 2008

Super Bowl records that won't fall anytime soon

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

Five potential Super Bowl XLIX heroes

Rex Ryan downplays Deflategate

Brady hopes Manning comes back

The worst Super Bowl commercials of all-time

SB anthem, halftime performers through the years

Super Bowl should smash TV records

Super Bowl records unlikely to fall

15 amazing Super Bowl XLIX stats

Teammate: Manziel not a joke

Ten most underrated SB performances

Knicks ‘in play’ for Kevin Durant?

Ex-QB: Everyone deflates footballs

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.