If you had told me before this series started that the Pirates were going to split the Brandon Cumpton/Edinson Volquez games with the Brewers, I think that I would’ve been pretty excited. I am obviously less excited now that Jeff Locke is starting the series finale instead of Charlie Morton and that he’s doing it because of an injury to Gerrit Cole, but injuries or no, baseball moves on.
Locke has been pretty uneven with Indianapolis this year and so there was some thought that maybe Vance Worley would get a shot in the rotation before him, but Worley’s last start was all over the place (nine strikeouts and six runs allowed in five innings), and so based on last year’s performances, I think Locke can have the benefit of the doubt here. He gave up five runs in his last start, though, and he’s racked up 12 walks over his last three, so I’m going to be a little skeptical of his ability to return to All-Star form here.
I think it’s also fair to question the wisdom of having Locke pitch in today’s big game against the Brewers while saving Morton for the Cubs tomorrow, though I suppose it’s also possible that the Pirates are lining things up this way to try to ensure that they don’t lose both games. The Brewers might not have expected to see Locke in this series, but Locke isn’t going to catch them off-guard, either; he made three starts against the Brewers last year and they scored eight runs in 16 2/3 innings against him. Certainly, most of the Brewers will be familiar with him.
This is the way that baseball works, though: players get hurt and put the team in a tight spot and the schedule keeps on moving onwards. Everyone would’ve agreed on Friday that two out of three against the Brewers this weekend would be a good result, and they can still do that today. Since Cole’s DL placement is retroactive to Wednesday, there’s a chance that stealing a win from the Brewers today will have them halfway through his time out of the rotation. Certainly, the Pirates should be able to score some runs off of Yovani Gallardo today. Since his electric start to the season, he’s allowed at least three runs in each of his last seven starts and he’s allowed 4+ in four of those. He’s got a 6.23 ERA in those starts, with only 29 strikeouts and 10 homers allowed in those 39 innings. With Locke on the mound, the Pirates are going to have to keep Gallardo’s rough streak going.
First pitch today is at 1:35.