Preview: Pirates (79-51) at Brewers (56-75)
Venue: Miller Park
Date: September 02, 2015 8:10 PM EDT
Pittsburgh veteran Jeff Locke and Milwaukee rookie Zach Davies have more in common than one might think.
Both essentially are auditioning to remain in their respective clubs’ starting rotations for as long as possible.
Locke looks to help the Pirates avoid their first three-game losing streak in more than six weeks with another resume-building performance, while Davies hopes to shine in his major league debut for the Brewers on Wednesday night at Miller Park.
Locke (7-8, 4.46 ERA) has the worst ERA on a starting staff that ranks among the major league’s best with a 3.48 mark. If the Pirates (79-51) reach the NL division series, he’d likely be the odd man out despite a solid outing last Wednesday in which he allowed two runs in seven innings of a 7-2 win at Miami.
The left-hander went 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA over his previous six starts and didn’t last more than 5 2-3 innings in any of them.
“We have such a good ballclub. You don’t really want to have any question marks in your rotation, especially at this point in the season,” Locke said. “I feel like the way I pitched, I’ve kind of been that for a little while.
“To put a good solid outing under your belt moving forward, if anything, it just builds a little bit more confidence and maybe puts some more confidence in the guys in the clubhouse, too.”
The last time Locke went as deep as he did last week was against the Brewers (56-75) on July 19, when he allowed three runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 6-1 loss. He went a season high-tying eight innings to beat Milwaukee 6-2 on April 18 after defeated the Brewers by that same score April 10.
Locke is 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA in his last six against Milwaukee, which counters with a prospect it received in the July 31 trade that sent Gerardo Parra to Baltimore.
Davies has gone 6-8 with a 3.30 ERA in 23 starts and one relief appearance in Triple-A ball. The Brewers called him up when rosters expanded Tuesday.
“I’ve had coaches telling me, ‘There’s a chance you could go up there in September and pitch a little bit,'” Davies told MLB’s official website. “It’s never real until it actually happens. Now that I’m here, it’s real to me.”
The right-hander is known more for his command than his power, and he’ll likely get a good first test against a Pirates team that leads the NL wild-card race.
Pittsburgh, though, is on the verge of losing three straight for the first time since July 17-19 after a 7-4 loss Tuesday. The club managed just four hits in the first seven innings against Jimmy Nelson before Aramis Ramirez – playing his first game in Milwaukee since being dealt to the Pirates on July 23 – Jung Ho Kang and Pedro Alvarez homered.
The loss dropped the Pirates six games behind Central-leading St. Louis.
Milwaukee has won three of four and likely won’t be intimated by Locke after touching up Pirates ace Gerrit Cole for five runs in the first two innings and chasing him after four Tuesday.
Adam Lind had two doubles and drove in a pair of runs, while Jean Segura had two hits and three RBIs. Segura, who is 6 for 13 over his last three, has gone 6 for 10 with a double off Locke this season.