Cincinnati Reds in Review: RP Sam LeCure


Beyond possessing the best mustache in recent Cincinnati Reds history, Sam LeCure has also redefined what it means to be a dominant middle reliever.

One of the few players who are just as popular off the field as he is on, LeCure has built up a following during his five years already spent in Cincinnati.

Sam LeCure – Relief Pitcher

Coming into the start of 2014, Sam LeCure was in the mix for the closer’s role in the intermediate due to Aroldis Chapman’s horrific injury suffered during Spring Training. Nothing about LeCure’s repertoire jumps off the page and indicates he’d be dominant at the end of games, but he has answered the bell time after time in a multitude of situations.

A converted starter, LeCure does not possess the 95+-MPH fastball that his counterparts do. Rather, he relies on what fans can attest to as one of the best two-seam fastballs in all of baseball. With the game having advanced so rapidly over the past decade in terms of bullpen specialization, it may actually play to “Sudden” Sam’s advantage to throw a less-than blazing fastball.

Drafted out of the University of Texas in 2005 as a 4th round selection, LeCure has only been a member of the Reds organization. With great starting pitching depth for the first time in quite awhile, LeCure became a solider with no home–not quite elite enough to merit a spot in the rotation, and not exactly so unhittable to merit a late-inning role. Rather than sulk and demand a trade, LeCure thrived in the long relief role.

Since he debuted in 2010, LeCure has been a major component of the Reds’ 25-man roster. While some may perceive that he is stuck in bullpen purgatory of not being able to be a starter or closer, LeCure will keep on thriving in whatever role is asked of him.

LeCure’s Stat Line:

1-4, 3.81 ERA, 56.2 IP, 48 K, 95 ERA+, 4.24 FIP, 1.52 WHIP, .283 OAV

Top Sam LeCure Moment:

If nothing else, pitching at Fenway Park is historic. On May 6, LeCure made his first and only appearance inside the iconic stadium that National Leaguers rarely ever get to enter. It was the fact that he pitched so well inside one of baseball’s oldest artifacts that makes this his shining moment.

LeCure would escape a jam in the bottom of the ninth of a tied game. Never mind that it was he who would create the jam, by walking Shane Victorino and David Ortiz after allowing a single to Dustin Pedroia (who was subsequently thrown out stealing). With men at the corners for the powerful Mike Napoli with two away, LeCure would have an epic battle that finally ended with getting the bearded Sox slugger to tap out to short to end the threat.

He would go on to pitch a 1-2-3 10th inning as well, but did not receive the run support necessary to pick up the win. Still, it was a hell of a way to introduce himself to the Green Monster and Red Sox Nation.

Low Point of the Season for Sam LeCure:

It doesn’t get much worse than facing one batter in a game and having that batter go deep—for a walk-off home run. In a scenario eerily similar to what produced his best moment of the season, on July 22 in Milwaukee, LeCure suffered the exact opposite fate.

Facing Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, LeCure missed his spot and Lucroy got enough of it to send it over the fence for a ninth inning walk-off home run.

LeCure would have five separate games in 2014 where he would allow multiple runs in an appearance, but the quickness and devastation of Lucroy’s one swing makes that his low point of what was a disappointing season.

Final Grade: C+

There really is no denying that 2014 was the worst season to date for Sam. There were points early in the season that he looked like the dynamic pitcher of old (he had a 1.14 ERA through June 4), but fell off as the year wore on.

With a bullpen full of more questions marks than exclamation points, the Redlegs will need for their favorite facial haired reliever to find his best stuff ahead of 2015.