Locke has been everything he wasn't during the second half of 2013 - aggressive, efficient, and working deep into games. The only thing that holds him back from being an every-fifth-day guy for the rest of the season is his remaining option. We'll see how that plays out when Frankie is ready to take his turn again, which looks like it may be before the All-Star break.
He's been tough against Philly. Jeff's 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two career starts, both in 2013. AJ is 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA against his old team in three starts, although his last game against them was as a Marlin in 2005.
AJ has lost a little zip on his fastball, and is second in the league in issuing walks to his teammate Roberto Hernandez. He's still effective though, as a 3-4 rotation guy rather than top of the staff arm. There's been some feel-good talk about the Bucs looking to get him back, but we think that's very unlikely - age, health, and his contract work against him being a good fit, and the FO already passed on a chance to sign him without giving up a player.
It's a reunion matchup; Locke considered AJ to be a mentor while he was with Pittsburgh, and the pair even had lunch together Friday. It'll make for an interesting three or four hours watching the master and the apprentice at work.
The lineup: Gregory Polanco RF, Josh Harrison LF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Russ martin C, Ike Davis 1B, Pedro 3B, Jordy Mercer SS and Locke P. For Starling, today was a scheduled R&R date.
The game starts at 1:35 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
- Clint Barmes was placed on the 15 day DL with a sprained groin and was replaced by Micheal Martinez on the roster. It's a pretty serious injury; he's expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
- The Pirates are a season-high five games over .500 at 46-41. Right now, they're third in the NL Central, 5-1/2 games behind the Brewers, and a 1-1/2 games away from the second wild card spot.
- The Bucs are trying to snap an eight-series spell where they need the last game for a sweep and can't win it.
- The Phillies are hitting .210 in their last 15 games, and gone 3-12 over that span.