The Pittsburgh Pirates were the toast of the National League for much of last season, finally looking like they were set for their first winning season in 20 years. After leading the NL Central with a 67-54 record on Aug. 19, though, the Bucs collapsed, losing 29 of their next 41 games.
This season, Pittsburgh is 15-10 -- far better than last year's 10-12 start -- and once again atop the Central, giving fans perhaps a whisper of a reason to come out of their dark caves of despair, which, admittedly, after so long, may actually be fairly well-appointed and cozy these days.
But, back to the matter at-hand. The Pirates have gone 5-2 over the past seven days, with two of those victories coming from our latest Scout.com Player of the Week, Jeff Locke.
Our previous two Players of the Week have been everyday players -- Prince Fielder and Mike Trout -- but what Locke did this week was tough to ignore.
The former 2006 second-round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves went 2-0 this past week, out-dueling Philadelphia's Cole Hamels 2-0 and shutting out a St. Louis Cardinals lineup featuring second-year stud Matt Carpenter, slugger Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.
Over the past seven days, the southpaw out of North Conway, N.H., has tossed 13.0 straight innings of shutout ball, striking out 10 while walking just four and allowing a total of five hits.
His WHIP over the past seven days (0.69) is tops among all Major League starters with more than 8.0 innings pitched in the past week (Wei-Yin Chen tossed an eight-inning, two-hit, two-walk shutout against the Oakland Athletics on April 26).
Locke's season has been an eye-opener this far for the Bucs, as he's lowered his career ERA from 5.82 to 4.74, allowing just nine earned runs this year over 28.2 innings of work, during which he's struck out 16 and walked 13, holding opposing batters to a .228 batting average.
April 15-21: Mike Trout
April 8-14: Prince Fielder
Scout.com Player of the Week: Jeff Locke
Pirates Dugout Top Stories
Josh Bell looking forward to next seasonJosh Bell cemented himself as a regular in the Pirates' lineup from late August onward, finishing the second half of the season with a .351 on-base percentage. Bell in 128 at bats…
Pirates DugoutWednesday at 7:33 AM
Mercer likes Pirates futurePirates shortstop Jordy Mercer missed the last few games of the season with right forearm discomfort. Mercer wound up batting .256 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI. Despite the Pirates…
Pirates Prospect Interview: Nick KinghamRight-hander Nick Kingham was closing in on a spot in the major leagues before having Tommy John surgery last May. The 24-year old got 10 rehab starts under his belt since the…
Pirates Prospect Interview: Will CraigPirates 2016 first round pick Will Craig finished his season with the West Virginia Black Bears of the New Yotk-Penn League with a .280 batting average in 63 games. He had two home…