Jeff Locke will make his first start of 2014 for the Pirates tonight, filling in for Brandon Cumpton (short rest due to a double header) who was filling in for Wandy Rodriguez (knee problem and/or terrible due to old age). That sentence probably tells you most of what you need to know about the Pirates’ rotation right now; it’d be good for the Bucs if Jeff Locke could make a strong start tonight.
He missed most of spring training with an oblique problem and so it’s sort of hard to sort out whether we should be viewing his minor league starts as rehab starts or not. In his second and third starts with Indy, he struck out 12 hitters and only walked two over 12 innings, but he gave up two homers in one of the starts and six runs (five earned) over the two performances. That means that, in general, I have no idea if we should think that they were good or bad. This is generally true for Jeff Locke’s entire career since he’s reached Triple-A, so it’s hardly out of the norm for him.
He faces off against Yusmeiro Petit, since Matt Cain was put on the disabled list today after cutting himself with a kitchen knife making a sandwich last week (no, seriously). Petit has done some excellent work out of the bullpen for the Giants this year, he’s started in the past, and he went six innings in place of Cain last week (though on only 72 pitches), so I’m not sure how limited he’ll be in terms of pitch count tonight.
In other game-related news, Josh Harrison is batting leadoff and playing right field again. I honestly have no idea how we went from, “Jose Tabata will be a fine stop-gap for Gregory Polanco based on how he played in the late summer last year” to this without Tabata ever getting a chance to play regularly this year, but here we are making decisions based on two day’s worth of data. It’s been that kind of season thus far.
The first pitch tonight is at 7:05. The clock is ticking quickly now.