Pittsburgh Pirates (48-44) vs. Cincinnati Reds (49-43)
Friday, July 11, 2014: 7:10 p.m. at Great American Ball Park
This time last season, Locke was preparing for his first Major League All-Star Game. His fall from grace has been a well-documented one amongst Pittsburgh Pirates brass. An atrocious second half saw Locke demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis, even beginning 2014 there.
With the recent rash of injuries to seemingly anyone with two arms on the Pirates’ staff, Locke has become a beacon of light once again. Since his promotion from the Minors on June 8, Locke has produced six consecutive quality starts. One of which, came against these Redlegs. He would throw only 83 pitches as the Pirates topped the Reds on June 19, but he would not factor into the decision.
Locke is coming off his best start of the season thus far, in which he tossed eight innings and allowed two runs (only one of which was earned), while picking up his second win of the year at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Sans his June 20 start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Mat Latos has been nothing short of unhittable thus far in 2014. He is yet to face the Pittsburgh Pirates on the year, which can be described as both a blessing and a curse. Lineup backbones such as Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker have not faced him since the final weekend of the 2013 regular season, but he has not become accustomed to new star Gregory Polanco, and new first baseman, Ike Davis.
Latos’ last time out, he went for eight innings and a win, much in the same way as Locke. It would not be a stretch to say that the two pitchers work in similar styles, attempting to keep opposing batters off balance, rather than rearing back for heat.
Once again the calendar reads July and the Pirates and Reds are embroiled in a heated divisional race. With just a single game currently separating the two in the standings, even with the All-Star break looming, this three-game set becomes as important as ever.