MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The Miami Marlins finally got back on the winning side of things on Tuesday night and now they're hoping to make it two in a row against a struggling pitcher.
Jeff Locke has yet to pitch in the playoffs despite being a member of Pittsburgh's rotation for the majority of the past two seasons, and there's little reason to believe that will change if the Pirates reserve another spot in October.
If he doesn't look better Wednesday night, he might find himself out of a job by September.
Coming off yet another short outing, Locke could be pitching for his rotation spot as the visiting Pirates and Marlins continue this four-game series in Miami.
Locke (6-8, 4.56 ERA) had a 2.40 ERA prior to the All-Star break from 2013-14 that ballooned to 5.29 in the second half, and that downward trend is present again this year.
The left-hander was hardly great in the first half with a 4.03 ERA, but he's been far worse while going 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in his past six outings. He hasn't completed six innings in any of them, needing 92 pitches to get through five while allowing each run and 11 hits in Friday's 6-4 loss to San Francisco.
"It was poor. Really poor. I just never settled in," Locke said.
Locke has allowed six homers in his last five starts, one fewer than he surrendered in his first 19. With Vance Worley pitching well for Triple-A Indianapolis, another poor start could put Locke's spot in jeopardy with rosters set to expand before his next scheduled outing.
He's 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his last three starts against the Marlins (51-75). One of the two homers he's allowed in those outings was hit by Giancarlo Stanton, who said Tuesday that he's about 10 days away from returning from the broken hand that's sidelined him for two months.
Locke's counterpart Wednesday has seen four balls fly over the fence in his last four outings, which wouldn't sound quite so bad if he had been on the mound at the start of any of those.
Chris Narveson (1-0, 3.86) has been in the Marlins' bullpen since arriving from Triple-A New Orleans on Aug. 5, but with rookie Kendry Flores scratched due to shoulder tendinitis, Narveson will make his first start in the majors since April 15, 2012, with Milwaukee.
The left-hander tore his left rotator cuff in that outing, spent most of 2013 in the minors and 2014 in Japan with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. He had a 5.20 ERA in six starts with the Zephyrs this season.
Narveson won't be a complete unknown to the Pirates (75-49). He made five starts against them in 2010 and 2011 while with the Brewers, winning the last four behind a 2.22 ERA. He shouldn't be surprised to find Michael Morse in Pittsburgh's lineup. Morse is 6 for 9 with two homers and three doubles when facing Narveson.
The Pirates didn't have much success against another unimposing left-hander Tuesday. Brad Hand, who had never gone more than 7 1-3 innings in 38 career starts, pitched into the ninth in the Marlins' 5-2 win.
Dee Gordon had two hits and four of Miami's five stolen bases, bumping Pittsburgh's major league-leading total of steals allowed to 114.
"He was the catalyst," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said of Gordon. "He's our spark plug."
Locke hasn't allowed a stolen base in his last four starts, but he could easily find himself dealing with Gordon on the basepaths in this one. The majors' leader with a .333 average, Gordon has been even better (.354) against lefties.
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