Bits: Locke, Niese go in opposite directions 

August, 28, 2013

As we wind down the fifth of six months in the fantasy baseball season, owners should be looking at recent statistical trends rather than full-season numbers, and several pitching performances from Tuesday night remind us how quickly things can change. For example, the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets were joined Tuesday by a trade that sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the contending Bucs for a prospect. Later that evening, the teams' left-handed starting pitchers continue to show they’re heading in different directions. The Pirates’ Jeff Locke was an NL All-Star last month and ERA leader. The Mets’ Jonathon Niese had a high ERA and a partially torn rotator cuff. On Tuesday, Locke was pounded yet again while Niese spun a three-hit shutout. Who’s owned in more leagues?

And it’s not just those fellows streaking, but the best advice when choosing replacement pitchers for the final month is to check on recent performance. Locke still boasts a 3.22 ERA for the season, but you don’t want any part of it. He will finish August with a 7.94 ERA and 2.25 WHIP, failing to reach six innings in any of his six starts, culminating in Tuesday’s five-run outing which is more fact than fluke. Locke was always living on the edge when it came to the walks and fortunate BABIP, and now he’s not worth owning at all.

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Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Can Jonathon Niese step up his game now that Matt Harvey is injured?