Stats Corner: Locke improves control, becomes vital rotation cog
Over the past year, Jeff Locke has been a major league All-Star, playoff spectator, struggling Triple-A starter and now a vital fill-in for a Pirates rotation that scarcely resembles 2013's dominant group. All but forgotten after registering a 6.12 ERA during the second half of last season, Locke is earning his keep by cutting his walk rate to Cliff Lee-esque levels.
The Pirates left-hander always threw strikes in the minors, issuing just 2.5 walks per nine innings, but that control never translated to the big leagues. Locke had the fourth-highest walk rate (4.3 BB/9) among starters tossing at least 200 innings from 2011-13, besting only Francisco Liriano, Hector Santiago and Edinson Volquez. This year, however, Locke places among the game's best at limiting free passes (minimum 30 innings pitched).
Pitcher Team BB/9
Phil Hughes Twins 0.85
Doug Fister Nationals 0.85
Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners 0.96
David Price Rays 1.02
Jeff Locke Pirates 1.07
Locke virtually has eliminated walks with a two-pronged approach. He's getting ahead in the count, then expanding the strike zone with secondary pitches once hitters are at a disadvantage. Locke threw a first-pitch strike just 58.5 percent of the time last year, below the 60-61 percent MLB average, but he's jumping ahead of batters 62.4 percent in 2014. Working ahead has allowed Locke to induce more swings on pitches off the plate.
Hitters are chasing Locke's stuff out of the strike zone 33.8 percent of the time overall according to Fangraphs, up from 27.7 percent last season. They're having an especially hard time laying off Locke's changeup and curve. The changeup has become his out pitch, as he's throwing it 26.6 percent of the time (16.3 percent in 2013).
David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates’ Melancon has been consistent since moving into closer’s role
- Friday’s scouting report: Pirates at Rockies
- Statistically speaking: Rockies’ bullpen suffering meltdowns
- Pirates notebook: Recovering Cole exceeds expectations in simulated game
- Liriano, Snider lift Pirates to a victory over Dodgers at PNC Park
- Pirates notebook: Huntington staying patient as trade deadline approaches
- Rossi: Liriano no ace, but he’s Bucs’ key
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Selig: Pirates’ rebirth a positive step for baseball
- Specialization, focus on velocity lead to surge in Tommy John surgeries
- Pirates notebook: Polanco, Puig held out of series opener