Pirates Rotation Trying To Prove Consistent

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Sep 24, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke (49) delivers a pitch during the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Pirates won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Locke

The fifth spot in the Pirates rotation will be full of competition in spring training, but as of right now we are going to say that Jeff Locke wins the position. Locke’s inconsistency was his biggest downfall last year as he went 8-11 with a 4.49 ERA.

Ever since coming over in the trade that sent Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves back in 2009, Locke has struggled in the Pirates rotation. He has only had one winning season since being a member of the rotation back in 2011. Locke was once looked at as a number three in the rotation with Cole and Taillon, but has since turned into the runt of that litter.

Locke’s problem over his career has been his inconsistency. He has games where he pitches eight innings allowing one or two earned runs like this:

And then he will have games where he gets shelled in three or four innings like this:

Last season—in starts where he went six or more innings—Locke never gave up more than four earned runs. However, when he goes five innings or less he gave up four or more runs 10 times out of 16 starts. His batting average against has gone up each of the last two seasons and it has become harder for Locke to make outs when he is on the mound.

In 2016, I look for Jeff Locke’s struggles to continue. He is not the great pitcher that the Pirates thought when they traded for him and that has shown in the big leagues.

I look for Locke to have a 5-8 record with a 4.60 ERA being bumped out of the rotation by mid July. He could be moved to the bullpen by mid season but his time as a starter in Pittsburgh has just about come to an end.

The Pirates rotation could see a lot of changes between now and April 3rd when the Pirates open against the Cardinals, but as it stands now number one through three are pretty solid in my opinion with the question marks appearing at the number four and five spots.

The 2016 season is a big one for the Pirates as they chase the National League Central Title. If they are going to reach that goal of winning the central their starting pitching will have to lead the way.