Last season, Jeff Locke became, in some ways, a whipping boy for regression. He made the All-Star team thanks to a stellar 2.15 ERA and, undoubtedly, eight wins. Regression seemed to be on the horizon, and it was. His command was iffy at best, and he didn’t miss enough bats to make up for that. And then, the bottom fell out. Locke posted a 6.12 ERA over his last 12 starts. He was optioned to the minors and began his 2014 there, as well.
Jeff Locke is back, but he hasn’t looked much like the old one so far. He’s only thrown 26.1 innings in the majors thus far, so we’re dealing with an extremely small sample. Nonetheless, Locke has walked 2 batters. His 2% walk rate is nearly a 10% improvement over last year’s. In 2013, Locke threw a first pitch strike 58.5% of the time; he’s at 64% this year. His zone% last year was 41%; it’s 52.2% so far.
The most encouraging thing, though, about Locke’s early success is his swinging strike rate. Currently, his swSTR% is 12%, nearly a 4% increase over his 2012 and 2013 stints. He’s been able to generate those whiffs due to his change-up, which has a 31.3% swinging strike rate in 83 pitches. Locke’s change-up is, without question, his best weapon. He knows it, so he’s upped its usage over 9 points to 25.6%.
Locke isn’t an ace, but he looks improved. Much of this could be noise, but it’s hard to fake a 31.3% whiff rate on your change-up. Watch Locke closely going forward. If his command holds up, he could have a little something.
I’m unsure if Aaron Harang has completely turned into a pumpkin, but his starts in June haven’t been pretty. He’s walked four more batters than he’s struck out, while posting a 5.32 ERA. He tightroped his way out of danger in three starts out of those four, but you have to wonder how long that will continue.
Andrew Heaney’s arrival was quite good. One run over six innings is a nice debut, and I’m betting we’ll see more punchouts today versus Philadelphia.
I’m kind of in love with Jake Arrieta at the moment, so I’ll be watching him versus the Reds and Homer Bailey tonight. The Reds’ lineup has been much better of late (.339 wOBA last 14 days), so it will be a good test for Mr. Arrieta and his new arsenal.
The Daily Five
Jeff Locke – $12,345
Please see above note.
White Sox stack
I’m not a a huge fan of Miguel Gonzalez, or his stuff. I am, however, a fan of the White Sox offense.
Adam Lind – $6,319
Lind always hits righties well. Tonight, he’s in his home park, which is friendly, if you’re an offensive player looking for a dinger.
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