Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

1. Almost every Major League team has a Jeff Locke as their No. 5 starter but there reaches a point where you have to pull the plug, at least when it comes to Locke pitching another meaningful game in 2015.

Locke was a disaster in the Pirates 9-4 loss to the Brewers, allowing five runs in 3 2/3 innings. The left hander has made just two quality starts since June 17.

Hurdle after Wednesday’s game was pressed by reporters if Locke has pitched his last game in the rotation for 2015.

“I’m not going to get into that right after a guy goes 3 2/3 innings,” Hurdle told reporters. “Those are conversations we’ll have internally. We continue to look at ways to make our team stronger all the time.”

Hurdle himself has had a rough go at it in not pulling starters quickly enough. Last night was no different with the game tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the 4th and leaving Locke in to pitch to Jonathan Lucroy.

“I let Locke pitch to Lucroy, and if he walks, I’ve got Hughes on Braun,” Hurdle said. “But I gave [Jeff] Lucroy.”

Blanton Time

Joe Blanton has been so good in his role as a reliever, the Pirates prefer not to mess with it, but it’s reached the point where it’s Blanton time in the rotation.

Blanton has 252 career starts, and as good as J.A. Happ has been, the Pirates still have no idea what they’re going to get from the back of the rotation the rest of the way with Happ, Morton, and A.J. Burnett returning in the next 10 days or so.

Who’s to say Blanton can’t emerge as a better option than Morton?

2. The Old Dog still has it. Aramis Ramirez got the Pirates back in the game with a 3-run homer in the fourth inning and then drove in another run, finishing with a four RBI night.

The expectation once Jordy Mercer returned was Hurdle likely going with the best defensive alignment on the left side of the infield. It’s been the exact opposite, as with Locke on the mound last night, Hurdle went with his best hitting lineup again, Ramirez at third base and Kang at short.

Hurdle loves what Ramirez brings to the table behind Andrew McCutchen in the cleanup spot and the Pirates don’t feel there’s that big of a drop off with Kang at short.

Unless Ramirez starts to falter down the stretch again, look for Kang and Ramirez to be the preferred left side of the infield.

3. The Steelers would love to sign Phil Taylor if they were confident he could make it through the season. Apparently they’re not. Gerry Dulac reports the Steelers believe Taylor needs a third surgery.

Coaches were intrigued about Taylor giving them the ability to play four defensive linemen in certain situations by having McLendon and Taylor inside.

4. A deal getting done between the Steelers and Kelvin Beachum before next Thursday’s deadline is considered to be 50/50. The two sides remain in discussions but word yesterday is a sizeable gap still remained and the Steelers clearing cap space on Tuesday was more about fitting Josh Scobee under the cap.

However, a potential deal for Beachum was always expected to go down to the wire.

Beachum had an elite 2014 season, rated as the No. 5 tackle by Profootball Focus. Here are the contracts for the four others who rated ahead of Beachum in 2014.

*Jason Peters (4 Years – $41,300,000, $15,750,000 guaranteed)

*Andrew Whitworth (2 Years – $19,525,000, $10,300,000 guaranteed)

*Joe Thomas (7 years – $80,500,000, $28,500,000 guaranteed)

*Joe Staley (6 Years – $44,500,000, $11,460,000 guaranteed)

Big money has been dished out to left tackles this summer.

*Redskins left tackle Trent Williams just signed a 5 year – $68.5 million contract.

*Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith signed a massive 8 year, $96.7 million contract.

If the Steelers fail to keep Beachum long-term, the debate will start whether it was more important to sign Cam Heyward or give Beachum that type of contract. I’d lean in the direction of Beachum when you have a $100 million dollar quarterback with maybe four great years left in him.

5. The Steelers made an attempt to require To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!