Can Locke Reverse The Trend?

Keith Srakocic/AP
Keith Srakocic/AP

When Jeff Locke takes the mound at PNC Park tonight at 7:05 to face the Chicago Cubs, he’ll be bringing along some recent history that he’d like to unload. Locke (6-6, 4.21 ERA) faces Dan Haren (7-7, 3.42 ERA) in Haren’s first start as a Cub. Locke has already started 3 games this season against Chicago, and has an 0-1 record, and a 10.22 ERA in just 12.1 innings pitched. He totes a WHIP of 2.50…yes, you read that correctly. He’s given up 21 hits, and 9 BB in 12.1 innings. To be kind, that’s just not good. To be less than kind, it stinks. Cubs batters are batting .382 against Locke this season, including 2 HR, 15 runs scored, and 16 strikeouts. Yesterday, we spoke about Locke sometimes trying to hard to be a strikeout pitcher. He tries to paint the corners, and if he’s getting the calls, he sees great success. If he’s not getting the calls, he’s lasting 5 innings or less because his pitch count is too high. Locke’s at his best when he mixes it up, letting his defense behind him do the job. He’ll need to do that tonight, or else history will be doomed to repeat itself.

GAME NOTES

Aramis Ramirez is again hitting cleanup. A lot of people are questioning manager Clint Hurdle’s decision to stick with Ramirez in the number 4 slot, as Ramirez is an underwhelming 4-34 since coming over from Milwaukee July 23. Hurdle seems to be content to let Ramirez figure it out. He’ll again follow Andrew McCutchen, with Jung Ho Kang hitting behind him. The Pirates lineup is as follows:

RF Gregory Polanco
LF Starling Marte
CF Andrew McCutchen
3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Jung Ho Kang
2B Neil Walker
1B Pedro Alvarez
C Francisco Cervelli
P Jeff Locke

Since an 11-26 run at the plate, Cervelli has cooled off, going only 2-13 in his past 5 games, and seeing his BA dip under .300, resting at .297. The Cleveland Indians have claimed RHP Deolis Guerra off of waivers. The Cubs lineup is:

CF Dexter Fowler
C Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
RF Jorge Soler
SS Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
P Dan Haren
2B Addison Russell

Pirates killer Chris Denorfia sits tonight, in favor of Chris Coghlan. In 6 games this year, Denorfia is 7-19, with an OPS of .820, including a 3-6 effort in last night’s Cubs 5-0 win. Haren definitely prefers pitching in the comforts of home this season. His road ERA of 4.16 is 1.45 higher than his home ERA of 2.79. He’s got 88 strikeouts and 25 BB in 129.1 innings in 2015. He is definitely prone to the homerun ball, surrendering 21 on the season so far.

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