Found August 03, 2013 on
Jeff Locke has entrenched himself in the Pirates rotation, and he is fine the team made no changes. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
We just really wanted to use the word exclusive, because it looks fancier than “one-on-one.”
Starting pitcher Jeff Locke has a unique perspective on the Pirates organization. The 25-year-old was drafted out of high school by the Atlanta Braves, and he spent 3.5 years pitching for the winning franchise before joining the Pirates in the Nate McLouth trade. Locke then spent the next 3.5 years in Pittsburgh’s minor league system. It’s safe to say the culture of winning is stronger for the Braves than for the Pirates.
In spending parts of seven seasons in the minors, Locke had a different view of the trade market than he does now.
“You’d see the trade deadline come up and be like ‘Ah man, we should have gotten that guy. We should have gotten this guy,’” Locke said. “You don’t really understand everything at that point. You don’t understand how important team chemistry is.”
A Fresh View
Locke worked his way through the Pirates’ minor leagues the last four seasons.
The 2013 season represents Locke’s first full Big League campaign, and an All-Star one given his 2.36 ERA and .215 oppenents’ batting average in starting a team-high 21 games. He does not carry the burden of 20 straight losing seasons or even players’ disappointment the last two seasons when big-name players were not added at the trade deadline. This year, he and his teammates realize that the trade market was a ghost town throughout baseball, especially the National League Central.
“Nobody got anybody,” Locke said. “I think some of them might be the names are bigger than the person… If we were gonna make a move, it was gonna be to get somebody significant. I’m not up in the office, so I don’t what they’re saying or what they’re trying to get.”
Locke did drop names like Cubs outfielders David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz, but says personally “it almost makes you feel better” than general manager Neal Huntington kept the “special” roster in tact and believed in the currently-constructed team.
Back to that unique perspective: this is the first season since 2009 that Locke has not been in a minor league clubhouse. Those years provided hundreds of games for him to watch the Pirates’ wealth of prospects. And knowing what is coming to Pittsburgh the next few years only makes him support Huntington’s lack of action even more.
“If you want to go out and give away your whole farm system for two months of somebody’s career and a chunk of change, then that’s a decision that you make collectively up top,” Locke said. “But we have a lot down there. We have the players in the system to do whatever we want to do.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle does not plan on using Monday’s off-day to skip a start for Locke or Gerrit Cole (both on pace for about 190 regular-season innings). Hurdle, his catchers and the coaches are still conversing, but he expects every starter will simply get one extra day off between starts.
Hurdle on his fielders, still the National League’s most efficient defense by turning 71.2 percent of balls in play into outs: ”The players have bought in to the stakes we’re playing on defense with the number of shifts, the new technology and analysis system we’re using.”
What’s different about this year’s slow August start? On this day one year ago, the Pirates had a 59.3 percent chance to make the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus. They currently sit with 98.5 percent playoff odds.
Locke on the Pirates’ bullpen and comeback-happy offense: “I say this with so much truth and honesty: I’ve never been on a team where I come out of the game and I knew it wasn’t over yet. I think every pitcher has gotta feel that way on this team right now.”
Pedro Alvarez will sit Saturday rather than face Colorado Rockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa, who has kept left-handed hitters to a .214 batting average and zero home runs this year. Two of the NL’s best southpaw hitters will be in the lineup, though. Starling Marte owns a .387 average vs. left-handed pitchers this year, second in the NL, and Andrew McCutchen is third with a .371 average.
Hurdle on the success of Saturday’s starter: “Liriano’s just been in a very consistent place with repeating the delivery. The ball out of his hand looks like a strike. What you see from him that I’ve probably seen a little bit more: you see really good hitters chasing some balls that normally they might not chase,” adding that Liriano “used to try to overpower” hitters with runners on base but does not as much anymore. The lefty enters Saturday owning a 2.16 ERA, 100 strikeouts and 37 walks over 95.2 innings.
Unavailable in the bullpen for Saturday’s game: Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes and Jeanmar Gomez.
BEST OF MAXIM
Last night I wrote about how Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett are the 1-A and 1-B when it comes to Pirates aces. I also said that I feel Liriano has passed Burnett as the Pirates ace. Typically, Burnett would follow that up with a complete game gem, allowing one run and striking out nine. After the game, Clint Hurdle was asked about the possibility that the Pirates have two aces...
Each week we run our “Top Performers” series, looking at the best pitchers and hitters from the previous week. This year we will also be recapping each month in order to award the Pitcher and Player of the month. Below are the average pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of May. The rankings include every pitcher who made at least four...
(Follow me on Twitter @jim_krug
It’s probably the closest an older, married man can come to experiencing the legendary “walk of shame” from collegiate undergrad days of long ago: sheepishly shuffling away from his computer monitor around 4:00PM on July 31st of every year, after his favorite Major League Baseball team has done nothing at the Trade Deadline to improve itself...
Francisco Liriano dug up another gem for his 12th win of the season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
When the Pirates need to stop a losing streak, they send out their stopper.
Francisco Liriano has become the stopper. He and the Pirates are now 12-4 in his starts after beating the Colorado Rockies 5-2 on Saturday night, and by doing so stopped a two-game losing streak from turning into...
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a statement to make to the St. Louis Cardinals and the rest of Major League Baseball this week, they belong on top.
Pittsburgh was faced with their biggest challenge thus far, as they played eight games in seven days. During that stretch the Pirates went 6-2 and dominated the Cardinals. They came into the series trailing by 1 1/2 games in the NL Central...
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...
Episode 15 of The Pirates Prospects Podcast can be downloaded or streamed below. This episode includes analysis from Nate Barnes (@NateBarnes_TPN), James Santelli (@JamesSantelli) and myself (@timwilliamsP2) on the Pirates. Highlights of the show include:
**The trade deadline was extremely slow. We talked about what led to that slow deadline, and some of the reported prices on the...
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: Angels 3, Pirates 2
Starting Pitcher: Christian Henriquez, LHP (2.00)...
Rockies (52-59) at Pirates (65-44)
7:05 PM–PNC Park, Pittsburgh
The Bucs look to avoid a series loss as they try and get back on track tonight against the Rockies.
Jorge De La Rosa (10-5, 3.21) vs. Francisco Liriano (11-4, 2.16)
De La Rosa, the lefty the Pirates pursued in free agency several years ago, has recovered from some...
MIAMI -- Few people enjoy smoking cigars as much as Jack McKeon.
A daily communicant, the former Marlins manager has been known to leave a lighted cigar outside church while attending Mass only to pick up the stogie immediately following the service.
But two months after undergoing heart bypass surgery, McKeon dropped a bombshell at Marlins Park on Sunday -- his cigar-smoking days...
With all of the time that we've spent talking about Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole this year, there's something that's gotten lost in the mix: some days, AJ Burnett takes the mound with his best stuff, and when that happens the other team doesn't stand a chance. Burnett was brilliant this afternoon, tossing nine easy innings against the Rockies,...
A.J. Burnett scattered eight hits and Russell Martin provided some rare run support for the right-hander with a three-run homer that led the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Colorado Rockies 5-1 Sunday.
Burnett (5-7) struck out nine and walked one in his first complete game of the season and 23rd of his 15-year career. He threw 110 pitches, including 83 strikes.
Martin's home run...
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a chance to make a deep playoff run for the first time since 1992 and don’t plan on making the same mistake the Washington Nationals made last year. The Pirates have said that they will not be shutting down their prized young pitcher, Gerrit Cole. They will get creative in monitoring his usage but they want him around for when they need him the most...
RHP Jared Hughes has been activated off the disabled list. To make room on the roster Vic Black has been sent back down to AAA Indy. Victor Black was pretty bad while here, giving up two runs in 4.0 innings. He also allowed three of his four inherited runners to score, much to the chagrin…
I suppose that as bouncing back from 13-0 losses goes, this wasn't ideal. Really, what happened was that one bad inning probably kept the Pirates from winning this game. Gerrit Cole looked really sharp in the first inning, but his slider flattened out a bit in the second and he gave up a home run to Troy Tulowitzki. He certainly didn't have his best outing tonight, but he...