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.
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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.