The Padres scratched Joey Lucchesi this morning with a stomach illness. Walker Lockett will take his place for his second big league start.
Lockett is being thrown directly into the fire for this one, going up against one of the best teams in the NL Central. In his last start against the Reds, Lockett only pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up 6 runs. Lockett has often been praised in scouting reports for being relatively “unflappable” in the face of distress on the mound. Though it was a little difficult to tell in that first start in Cincinnati. Reports also mention Lockett relying heavily on his fastball and change-up to generate those soft groundball outs, which makes sense that his GB% was at 65% for the year so far. What got him into trouble against the Reds, however, were the five walks that he issued over the course of those innings. The fourth inning in particular, roughly about the second or third time through the lineup is where it seems there’s a sore spot for him. If we look at his inning splits below we’ll see that Lockett needs to make some adjustments when going through the line up for the second or third time:
The Padres still have some hope in what Lockett can bring to the table, though his ERA hasn’t exactly been at a desirable number since being called up to Triple-A El Paso. The last time it was below a 3.00 was when he was still pitching for the San Antonio Missions. Lockett’s 2016 ERA with them was a beautiful 2.08. Since then, it’s only continued to rise and maybe drop just ever so slightly here and there.
This could have easily been set up as a bullpen day to replace Lucchesi’s start but at they gave Lockett a second chance to see what he can do. Personally, I don’t see him as anything more than a middle innings reliever, but maybe he can make those adjustments and prove me wrong.