Leake Looking Legit?


When Mike Leake was selected as the 8th overall pick in the 2009 amateur frat, expectations were a little high. He had an outstanding career at Arizona State as not only a pitcher (40-5), but with the bat as well (.299). After being that 8th overall pick, the Reds decided to have Leake pitch in the Arizona Fall League.

After that, it was on to spring training for the beginning of the 2010 season. To the surprise of many, Leake was tabbed as the Reds #5 starter, edging Travis Wood for the last starting spot. When Leake began his 2010 campaign, it was with little surprise that he did attain some success.

But that changed…

A tired shoulder forced the Reds to rest Leake and eventually, shut him down for the remainder of 2010. That’s all Dusty Baker needed, another young arm in peril. It may have been just what was needed. Well, that and a little luck.

Going into the 2011 spring, there was much speculation that Leake would be the odd man out for the five starting nods. Edinson Volquez had been named the Opening Day starter. Bronson Arroyo was coming off his best season since donning a Reds uni. Johnny Cueto was viewed as a potential ace in the making. Travis Wood had an edge this time because he now had MLB experience and was a lefty. Homer Bailey was still considered to have an edge with experience. Yes, Leake appeared out of the picture and may have to start 2011 in (gasp) Louisville.

Spring training played a couple of tricks on the Reds. Cueto was placed on the disabled list with tightness in his forearm. That opened the door for Leake. Then ,just before the Reds broke camp to head to Cincinnati, Bailey had the now famous “shoulder impingement”. Leake, already in the rotation, was now solidly a member of the starting staff. To keep that, he would have to pitch well.

As fate would have it, he didn’t exactly do so. In his first nine games (six starts), Leake had a good record (3-2), but was not performing as the Reds brass had hoped. His last three outings all came from the bullpen with the last being on May 13. In that 0.2 innings, Leake surrendered 2 hits, a walk, threw a wild pitch, and allowed and RBI single to Matt Holliday. Only a double playoff the bat of Yadier Molina got him out of that 7th inning.

The next day, Leake was sent to Louisville to experience the minor leagues for the first time. Leake’s
numbers at the time of his demotion: 3-2, 5.70 ERA, 1.376 WHIP, .266/.329/.432 against. The time in Louisville, although short, would prove to be valuable. Working with Ted Power usually is. Two weeks after the demotion, the Reds recalled him.

His first outing after being recalled is one of his best of the season. In a game against the Atlanta Braves, Leake went six innings, allowing only one run on seven hits. He’s had a couple of stinkers as of late, but has also stifled the bats of the Giants and the Rays. Stop right there. I know neither team is an offensive juggernaut, but credit is due.

Since the recall, Leake is 5-3, 3.22 ERA, 1.057 WHIP, .234/.284/.370 against. He has had hiccups in three of his last fives games, but his last outing was exceptional, but suffered the loss. He came out on the short end of the stick against Charlie Morton and the Pirates in a 1-0 defeat. Can’t pitch much better and still take an “L”.

And we are hopefully seeing a maturation. Most outside of Cincinnati know Leake for his “Mishap at Macy’s”.

We Reds fans know him better than that.