Jeff Locke will not start again this season

Joe Sargent

Jeff Locke will not start against the Reds, Clint Hurdle says, and so Locke's regular season seems to be over, at least as a starter.

Assuming he's done, Locke ends the season with a 3.52 ERA and a 4.19 xFIP. He posted a 2.15 ERA in the first half and a 6.12 ERA in the second half. Amazingly, he posted a 4.14 xFIP in the first half and a 4.21 xFIP in the second. He walked more batters in the second half, but he also struck out batters at a higher rate and got slightly more ground balls. There are lots of small differences, but the biggest one is that his BABIP was 137 points higher in the second half than in the first. So we can get really granular with this if we want, but basically, Locke went way too high on the swing in the first half, and then fell off and hit his head on the rubber floor in the second half. He was very lucky in the first half and very unlucky in the second.

Some commenters here have recently compared Locke to James McDonald, but the two cases are very different. McDonald actually pitched like an above-average starter in the first half of 2012, and a complete bum in the second; Locke hasn't shown a massive change this year in his demonstrated level of ability, just his results. I'd be fine with having him in the rotation next year, as long as he's intended to be the fifth starter and not, say, the third. Just as it wasn't right to overreact to his awesome-looking first few months, it won't be right to overreact to his terrible-looking second half. He's a perfectly decent back-end guy, and at his age, we can't rule out the possibility that he'll improve. That said, the fact that he was an All-Star this year shows how silly it is to choose All-Stars based on three months of a good ERA.

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