PITTSBURGH -- Before Wandy Rodriguez took the mound Friday night, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked if, given that the lefty was coming off a strained left hamstring injury, he'll be keeping a close eye on him.
"I'll be watching him just like you'll be watching him," Hurdle responded.
Turned out, nobody watched as closely as Jeff Locke, the young left-hander who was treated to a clinic. Rodriguez threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 21 Braves he faced in the 6-0 victory, an advantage that enabled him to work seven one-hit innings on a total of only 82 pitches (12 per inning).
The night before, against the same Atlanta team, Locke had needed 95 pitches in 4 2/3 innings.
The two southpaws have comparable statures and repertoires, so Hurdle considered Rodriguez's performance possibly "an instructional video" for Locke.
"Hopefully he picked up something," the manager said Saturday afternoon. "There's a great similarity between them, and we saw Wandy just knock a hole in the strike zone, especially glove-side down-and-in to right-handed hitters."
"Absolutely," Locke concurred, "he's been phenomenal to watch, with that fantastic fastball-curveball combination. There's little things you can pick up: Wandy's fantastic pace, he just gets back on the rubber and attacks, and just getting ahead of guys.
"I feel like we do have a lot of similarities, but some differences, too. He's got a slower, looping curve that he can throw for a strike any time. Me, I've gotta be ahead to use it, as a put-away pitch."
Locke's first opportunity to put into practice any tips he may have picked up is scheduled to come Tuesday, against the Phillies in the second-game of a four-game series in Philadelphia.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.