Found August 29, 2013 on Pirates Prospects:
In a move that does make sense logistically, but has some shock value when looking at it at face value, the Pirates sent Jeff Locke to Double-A Altoona yesterday to clear space for new acquisitions Marlon Byrd and John Buck. The deciding factor of the move was what Neal Huntington said would give Locke a “short break” while the Pirates could maintain a full roster until Altoona’s season ends next week. Huntington said Sept. 3 is when Locke, and fan-favorite Tony Sanchez, will be recalled to Pittsburgh. Jeff Locke has been sent to Double-A Altoona to press the “pause” button. (Photo Credit: David Hague) Meanwhile, the Pirates continue to stress they are still committed to Locke. Manager Clint Hurdle said he and pitching coach Ray Searage did take some positives out of Locke’s last start and will continue to work with him. “I do think there were some positives, enough to, you know what, we’re just skipping a start,” Hurdle said. ”No way are we unplugging, we’re just skipping a start, catching his breath.” The main positives from Locke’s start came with his glove-side command, something that helped him attain monumental (and unexpected) success early in the season when he posted a 2.15 ERA in 18 first-half starts. “He was able to get strikes to the glove side. He was able to go in off[-speed] also when he wanted to,” Hurdle said. “The command was so much better, much more effective to his glove side.” But, while Locke took a step forward in terms of working the ball on the inner parts of the plate, he also took a step (or two) back when it came to repeating success. “He did get some balls in on right-handers, he did throw some better breaking balls,” Hurdle said. “The overall consistency wasn’t there.” To put Locke’s last start in perspective, though, he encountered a lot of bad luck in tandem with a few defensive miscues that even Clint Hurdle uncharacteristically expressed. The Brewers got a run in the first inning Tuesday after an  infield hit by Nori Aoki and a bunt by Jean Segura led off the game. Jonathan Lucroy then walked, and Aramis Ramirez grounded into a double play that scored Aoki from third. From the standpoint of Fielding Independent Pitching, you know, the stat everyone loved to use to talk about how bad Locke would get as the year progressed, only the walk to Lucroy was Locke’s fault. The rest was out of his hands. “If we defense better on a couple balls, the things that happened early in the season, the soft-hit ball the guy’s out by half a step at first base, now he’s safe,” Hurdle said. “The perfect bunts put down sometimes, things were just a little bit off.” Ramirez hit a home run in the fourth inning, which is Locke’s fault via the responsibilities assigned to a pitcher via FIP. Then in the fifth, when the Brewers chased Locke from the game, Locke could’ve just as easily escaped his jam with having allowed no runs instead of three in the frame. And, if he had completed the inning with a pitch total somewhere in the 70s (he exited at 70), that would’ve saved Hurdle at least one reliever and maybe two had Locke made it through the sixth. Scooter Gennett scored on a ball hit to left by Lucroy that Jose Tabata threw home, and was a split-second behind Gennett at the plate. One can’t say for sure that if Marte was in field, Gennett would’ve been out, but it might’ve been closer. Ramirez followed with a double to left that glanced off Tabata’s glove, bounced off the wall, and scored two more Brewers runs. With confidence, it can be said that if Marte was in left for that play, Milwaukee leads 3-o, not 5-0. As Hurdle has said all season, feelings are not facts. And that’s the nature of the discussions he and pitching coach Ray Searage have with Locke. “We always, in our sit down, Ray usually has one and if I catch up with him I talk about feelings and facts,” Hurdle said. ”I wondered what he felt out there, and what facts did you see, did you feel. The couple of facts were a couple of runs, if we defense better in one inning, I don’t know if three get put on the board in the fifth inning.” Besides the luck issues, there’s also the matter that Jeff Locke is one of two pitchers to have pitched all season long from spring training until now without a legitimate break, Gerrit Cole being the other. Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett, and Francisco Liriano have all had significant periods of downtime with Burnett missing time with a calf injury, Liriano beginning his season in May, and Morton in mid-June. At 25 and in his first full season in the major leagues, Locke has thrown 148 and one-third innings. The only season in which he threw more was between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2011 when he threw 153 and one-third innings and finished 8-10 with a 3.70 ERA. Gerrit Cole, the vaunted No. 1 overall draft choice in 2011, can have an innings limit or whatever way the Pirates want to spin how they’ll control how much he throws this year. Why can’t Jeff Locke? After posting an ERA of 8.10 in his last eight starts, it’s probably necessary. “That can come from just the overall usage of a season,” Hurdle said. “There’s layers of physical toughness and mental toughness we’ve all got to acquire throughout our career. I do think that’s as much of it as anything.” On the bright side, Locke has shown the mental toughness required for someone to succeed at this level. Hurdle cited Locke’s continued determination, and confidence level in contrast to the level of misfortune that’s come his way in the second half. “I see him meeting the challenges mentally,” Hurdle said. “I’ve seen a guy that’s got as much self-confidence you would hope a man would have going through what he’s going through because there’s times when it’s hard to be confident.” Buck gets the start John Buck makes his debut for the Pirates tonight, catching and hitting seventh. Nothing more than a standard off-day for starter Russell Martin. “John Buck is a veteran receiver,” Hurdle said. “He’s been doing this for a very long time, has handled some very good pitching staffs, and just brings us more depth, another couple areas of experience.” Other lineup wrinkles include Pedro Alvarez shifting back to the clean-up slot against the right-hander Yovani Gallardo, and Marlon Byrd hitting fifth. Jose Tabata and Neil Walker re-take their spots atop the batting order, and Jordy Mercer moves back to eighth. NL Central race The Pirates (77-55) have an opportunity to re-join the lead atop the National League’s Central Division. Cincinnati (75-59) shellacked St. Louis(78-55), 10-0, last night, and the Pirates pulled to within a half-game of the lead with their 7-1 win last night. Both teams are off tonight, so a win tonight would pull the Pirates into a tie with the Cardinals in first place, and extend their wild card lead to 3.5 games over Cincinnati. Lineups Pirates Jose Tabata LF Neil Walker 2B Andrew McCutchen CF Pedro Alvarez 3B Marlon Byrd RF Gaby Sanchez 1B John Buck C Jordy Mercer SS Gerrit Cole P Brewers Scooter Gennett 2B Jean Segura SS Jonathan Lucroy C Aramis Ramirez 3B Carlos Gomez CF Khris Davis LF Caleb Gindl RF Juan Francisco 1B Yovani Gallardo P    
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Pirates demote Jeff Locke to Double-A

Struggling Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke has gone from potential Cy Young candidate to Double-A player in the span of about a month. The Pirates optioned the 2013 All-Star to Altoona Wednesday the club announced in a press release. Catcher Tony Sanchez was also sent to Altoona. “This move allows us to give Jeff Locke a short break” general manager Neal Huntington said...
DRAWERINGS

Starling Marte hangs up fan's artwork in dugout

Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte is currently on the 15-day DL with a sprained finger. Marte has been one of the key components to the Pirates' success this year, and has become quite a fan favorite in Pittsburgh as a result. Before Thursday night's game with the Brewers, Marte noticed a fan with a hand-drawn "get well Starling" sign along with a...

Pirates Notebook: What Now for Jose Tabata?

Prohibitively, the addition of Marlon Byrd makes the Pittsburgh Pirates a better baseball team. Had Byrd been on the Pirates’ roster all season, he’d essentially be the third-best hitter on the team. And, the Pirates may own three or four extra wins if he started 2013 in Pittsburgh with his WAR of 3.5. In contrast, the production received from right field this season from the...

Pirates Playoff Odds After Trading for Marlon Byrd, John Buck

Acquiring Marlon Byrd did not swing the playoff odds too much, but Wednesday night’s win certainly did. (Photo Credit: David Hague) It would take a Hindenburg-esque crash for the Pirates to miss the MLB postseason (98-percent chance Bucs make it), but it is unlikely they will take the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals (32 percent). The Bucs can shoulder some blame. The Pirates...

Byrd Homers in Debut, Morton Fires a Gem as Pirates Win 7-1

Marlon Byrd didn’t have the game-winning hit or even the knockout blow, really, when the Pirates beat the Brewers Wednesday. But, the Pirates’ newest addition to the starting lineup made the most noise with a three-run home run over the center field fence and into the bushes that broke open a 4-1 ballgame in the bottom of the seventh. “It was one of those things, you come to...

Recap: Jones, Liriano, Pirates beat Cards for Central tie

PITTSBURGH -- Slumping Garrett Jones hit his 100th career homer and drove in four runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis 5-0 Friday night and moved into a tie with the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. Jones had three hits and Russell Martin added his 12th homer of the season. Jose Tabata and Neil Walker got two hits as the Pirates moved within four victories of their...

Pirates put Byrd to work

Marlon Byrd had been in the Pittsburgh Pirates' clubhouse for all of five minutes when the newly acquired right fielder found his name penciled in as the cleanup hitter Wednesday night against Milwaukee. Asked if he was surprised about being thrown into the lineup so quickly, the 12-year veteran the Pirates hope will help ignite a sagging offense just smiled. ''Of course...

Prospect Watch: Kingham and Glasnow Finish Their Regular Seasons Strong

TOP OF THE SYSTEM A look at how the current top 20 prospects did today. Note that this list doesn’t include players currently in the majors. If a player is in the majors, he will be removed, everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. Rankings are from the mid-season rankings, and links on each name go to their Pirates...

Preview: Cards to test Pirates in critical weekend series

The Pittsburgh Pirates grabbed the NL Central lead from St. Louis when the Cardinals visited PNC Park one month ago, taking four of five to set the wheels in motion for a run at their first division title since 1992.The next 10 days should determine just how realistic that possibility may be.Now a game behind the Cardinals, the Pirates hope Francisco Liriano can pull them into a...

Minor League Schedule: Kingham and Glasnow Make Last Regular Season Starts

West Virginia made the playoffs last night, giving the Pirates organization their fourth playoff team. Jamestown still has a chance to make it a fifth team. The GCL Pirates will play a one game playoff today to try to get to the GCL finals. Check out the Recent Transactions section to the bottom of this page for all Pirates minor league transactions. A full recap of yesterday’s...

DSL Pirates 2013 Season Recap: Pitchers

The Pirates had two teams in the Dominican Summer League that played well and their starting pitching carried them all season. They had a group of eight pitchers between their two rotations, that all had excellent seasons. Possibly the most impressive part is that two of their top starters went down early in the season, so with those two players includes in the conversation, they...

Injury News: Progress on All Fronts

Prior to tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, a bushel of information came out regarding the Pirates’ veritable laundry list of current injuries. More important and relevant than any other news is that closer Jason Grilli threw a 25-pitch simulated game this afternoon and may make a rehab outing Saturday in Double-A Altoona. Jason Grilli will make a rehab outing with...

Imagining Russell Martin.

I can't get enough Russell Martin autos, and thankfully it's a PC that doesn't break the bank. Today's card features yet another great shot of Russ.Numbered 23/25, this Exquisite Imagery John Hancock from 2007 UD Exquisite Rookie Signatures Baseball ran me under $7.50 shipped and is a most welcome addition to my ever-expanding Russ Collection. Even though he's...

Game 132: Pirates 7 Brewers 1

Really, I'm not sure that I can pick my favorite moment from this game. Marlon Byrd's game-sealing three-run homer into centerfield bushes followed by a simultaneous Steve Blass and Twitter explosion of Byrd puns was pretty great, but all it really did was put the finishing touches on a game that had looked like a win for a while. For my money, I'm not sure I've ever...

Game 133: Brewers 4 Pirates 0

The linescore makes this obvious, but this game was really decided in the first couple of innings. Neither starter came out with his best stuff, but the Brewers were able to capitalize on the rustiness that Gerrit Cole had after a longer-than-normal laoyff, while the Pirates left runners littered all over the bases against Yovani Gallardo despite hitting the ball awfully hard against...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

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

Company Info
Help
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.