A fourth-round pick by the Padres in the 2012 Draft, Lockett battled myriad injuries and struggled to gain traction early in his career. His first healthy season came in '16, when the right-hander posted a 2.96 ERA over 164 innings while climbing from the Class A level up to Triple-A. Though he would finally make made his big league debut two years later, the Padres traded Lockett to the Indians for a Minor League pitcher in November to clear room on their 40-man roster. Two months later, the Indians sent Lockett and Sam Haggerty to the Mets in exchange for catcher Kevin Plawecki. Though he would struggle in his return to the Majors in '19, posting an 8.34 with a .347 opponents’ average in 22 2/3 innings across four separate stints, Lockett did record his first big league victory against the Giants in July.
Major League hitters hammered Lockett’s fastball in 2019, batting .390 and slugging .634 with a miniscule 3.8 percent whiff rate against the pitch. His heater has been up to 95-96 mph in the past but sat 92-93 with the Mets. Lockett’s velocity dip makes some evaluators wonder if he might be better off ditching his straight four-seamer altogether in favor of a sinker. Lockett’s 86-87 mph changeup was his most effective secondary pitch in the big leagues, inducing whiffs at a 29.5 percent clip. His 79-81 mph curveball can be inconsistent but features an above-average spin rate (2,629 rpm in ’19). He has a strong track record of throwing strikes in the Minors (2.0 BB/9) but needs to improve his command.
The fact that Lockett has never missed many bats (6.9 K/9 in eight Minor League seasons) and relies on generating weak contact gives him a small margin for error as a big league starter. The Mets think the right-hander can be better than he was in 2019, though even the best version of Lockett, who will be 26 in 2020, is probably a No. 5 starter.