Pirates Designate Jeff Locke For Assignment

The Jeff Locke era in Pittsburgh has come to an end. After six seasons as a Pirate, Locke has been designated for assignment.

Ladies and gentlemen, our long national nightmare is over. Jeff Locke is no longer a Pittsburgh Pirate.

For six seasons Jeff Locke has driven fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates up a wall. He was maddeningly inconsistent as a starting pitcher. And, over time, his inconsistency turned into flat out poor pitching.

The deadline for Major League Baseball teams to offer contracts to arbitration eligible players is Friday. Earlier in the offseason I wrote that the Pirates should non-tender Locke. And that is what has happened.

Jeff Locke is coming off the worst season of his Major League career. In 2016 he pitched 127 1/3 innings in 30 games, 19 of which were starts. Locke posted a 5.44 ERA, 4.84 FIP, 4.91 xFIP, and a 0.2 WAR. All of these numbers were in the bottom two for a season in his career.

Locke’s struggles in 2016 led to him, finally, being demoted from the Pirate rotation to the bullpen. Now, he has been designated for a assignment and is no longer a Pittsburgh Pirate.

The move that led to Locke being designated for assignment was the signing of pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla. In 2016 Bonilla pitched in the Dodgers’ Minor League system. I would look for him to start the season in the bullpen for Triple-A Indianapolis.

During the 2016 season Bonilla pitched 111 Minor League innings. In these 111 innings pitched he had a 3.97 ERA and struck out 118 batters. During his Minor League career he has averaged more than ten strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

In 2014 Bonilla pitched in 20 2/3 innings for the Texas Rangers. In these 20 2/3 innings pitched he struck out 17 batters, he allowed just two home runs, and he posted a 3.05 ERA. However, his 5.23 BB/9 was far too high. His 2014 season was cut short due to an elbow injury.

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