The Pittsburgh Pirates had to make a couple of roster moves prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers to make room for newly acquired Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
One of those moves involved struggling starting pitcher Jeff Locke.
Locke, who made the All-Star Game after a fantastic first half, was demoted to Double-A Altoona on Wednesday. In his first full big league season, Locke has gone from a potential Cy Young candidate to a minor leaguer in the span of about a month.
After a victory on July 21, Locke was 9-2 with a 2.11 ERA. He had a quality start next time out but then the regression began. In his last six starts, Locke has an 8.10 ERA and 2.33 WHIP. What’s worse is the fact that opposing hitters are crushing him to the tune of a .388/.460/.491 slash line.
The southpaw still has very good numbers on the season with a 9-4 record and 3.22 ERA, but it has gotten to the point where something had to happen.
The move isn’t permanent as it was done basically just to give Locke a break. He will rejoin the big club on September 3.
The same can be said for catcher Tony Sanchez, who was optioned to Altoona as well. The former first -round pick had some moments with the bat and really impressed as a defensive catcher, but it made sense for the Bucs to acquire a veteran catcher in Buck.
Both Locke and Sanchez could still be eligible for the postseason roster if a DL move is made before September 1.
In other roster news:
– It looks like rookie reliever Vic Black will be the player to be named later in the trade with the Mets.
– The Pirates have released catcher Kelly Shoppach from Triple-A and have promoted Carlos Paulino from Altoona to Indianapolis. Shoppach, who was signed to a minor-league deal a few weeks ago wasn’t going to get called up after the Pirates acquired Buck and with Sanchez going to Altoona for about 10 days; it made sense to promote Paulino.
– Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who visited Dr. James Andrews, will not need surgery. That alone is the best news on Rodriguez since he initially was placed on the DL.
– Finally some more good news. Outfielder Starling Marte, who wasn’t supposed to start swinging a bat for two weeks, took batting practice today in the cage. There’s still no timetable for Marte’s return, but that news hopefully means it may be sooner rather than later.