Lack of command plagues Walker Lockett in first MLB start

SAN DIEGO– Starting in place of injured southpaw Joey Lucchesi (hip), Padres starter Walker Lockett allowed four runs, four hits, and walked five in 3 2/3 innings on Friday night at Petco Park.

Lockett threw 81 pitches in his major league debut, 45 for strikes. He constantly struggled with command against a Reds lineup that was stacked with left-handed hitters. Six of the nine batters in the Cincinnati order were either left-handed or switch hitters.

In Triple-A, left-handed hitters were hitting .347 with a .992 OPS against the right-hander.

The Reds first got to Lockett in the third inning. Speedster Billy Hamilton worked a six pitch walk to lead off the inning and promptly stole second. He advanced to third and then home on groundouts by Jesse Winker and Tucker Barnhart.

In the fourth, Lockett again walked the leadoff hitter (Eugenio Suarez). Scott Schebler followed with an opposite-field single, placing runners on first and second with nobody out. Next up was Jose Peraza, who lined a two-run double into the left-center field gap.

Later in the inning, Tucker Barnhart hit a run-scoring dribbler up the middle, which ended Lockett’s evening. Robbie Erlin came on in relief and retired Joey Votto on a ground ball to first, closing Lockett’s line.

If there was a bright side to Lockett’s outing, the sinker-baller did induce seven ground ball outs. For the most part, he kept the ball on the ground. However, the lack of command ultimately came back to bite him.

When asked what he would like to see from Mitchell prior to the game, manager Andy Green stated that he would like to see some assertion in Lockett.

“Just go attack. Throw strikes, pitch every inning with conviction,” the skipper stated. “Let the results come when they come.”

Green did not say whether or not the club has decided on a starter for Lockett’s next spot in the rotation. That spot would come up on Wednesday afternoon against the Braves.