The Bucs' plan is for Locke to face the Brewers in Sunday's series finale, pushing scheduled starter Charlie Morton back to the opening game of the set against the Cubs. However, the possibilitity exists for the turns of Locke and Morton to flip-flop.
The only certainty is that Cole won't be taking his. The Pirates' top winner (6-3) labored through 100 pitches in 5 2/3 innings Tuesday night in San Diego, raising what manager Clint Hurdle called "red flags."
"There have been some things we've talked about, red flags you pick up," Hurdle said. "Consistency, volume and efficiency of pitches. There are a lot of different factors to look at.
"I think 'fatigue' is the proper word. If you look at the season he pitched last year, the run on which he went with us... At this point in time, we really feel it's [just] fatigue."
Cole made his big league debut last June 11, facing and beating the Giants at PNC Park. From that point on, through Tuesday's start against the Padres, he has made 31starts and thrown 194 innings in one calendar year.
"You want to make sure you're protecting a young guy, so that conversation [of placing him on the DL] is being had," Hurdle said.
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.