It's no secret that the just-concluded homestand against the Nats and Mariners was pretty disappointing. The Pirates went 2-3 over the five games, though they could've pretty easily gone 4-1. Of course, none of that matters now; the Pirates now have 11 games in the next 11 days and so the focus turns to winning as many of them as possible. This stretch kicks off with four road games in New York against the Mets. The Mets are, in almost every aspect, a pretty middle-of-the-road NL team this year. They're currently eighth in both runs allowed and runs scored, though their record is a little bit under .500 (13-17). One would think that the Pirates should be able to at least split this series and maybe take three of four, though it's worth noting that Matt Harvey will start on Sunday and so for now, the Pirates are probably best served by taking things one game at a time.
Jeff Locke starts tonight, coming off of a pretty lackluster start against the Nationals. I'm having a hard time pegging his performance this year. In his first two years in the big leagues, he got hit pretty hard all over the ballpark despite pretty sparkling strikeout/walk numbers. This year he's not missing as many bats (his K% is down from 23% last year to 13.4% this year) and he's occasionally struggling with control (BB% up from 7.4% to 11.3%). He's not getting an exceptional amount of groundballs or anything, either. Really, a bunch of his success is tied up in the .220 BABIP against him, which is obviously way too low. Still, he's capable of striking out more hitters than he has and his command shouldn't be as shaky as it's been, so one would think that even if his BABIP starts to regress back upwards he should be able to compensate for it by simply giving out fewer free passes and not allowing as many balls to be put in play. Like I said; I'm having trouble figuring him out.
His mound opponent tonight is Dillon Gee. Gee has been bad this year with 19 strikeouts, 11 walks, and five homers allowed to match his 6.16 ERA in six starts and 30 2/3 innings. If Locke has another bad night, at least the Pirates should be able to compensate against Gee.
First pitch tonight is at 7:10.