Mike Leake NL (TM)
Think Ian Kennedy, Alex Cobb, Bronson Arroyo



See Jeff Sullivan's recap.  In essence, the Mariners gave the Cardinals Rayder Ascanio, and the Cards gave back $0.75M in international slot space.  That space is valued at $3-4M, so this trade is a wash.

Then, the Cardinals gave the M's Mike Leake while sharing $17M of his salary.  The M's wind up paying 3x$36M over the years 2018-20.  The big thing is that they get to open their present now, pay a couple mill for the end of 2017.  Dipoto selected his #4-5 starter going forward.



Sullivan compiled this chart that averages Leake's fastball over the period 2010-2017.  It used to be 88, then was 90 for a long time.  It threated 92 for a bit and now has slid back to 90.



This chart makes the variation look wider than perhaps is.  All fastballs thrown within it are "meh."  Leake is not a Yovanni Gallardo, a 4 BB ex-power pitcher with a vanished fastball -4 MPH, and one dubious 87 MPH slider that batters with slider-speed bats tee off on. Mike Leake is a 2.1 BB guy who cuts and moves his fastball, neatly against three other pitches. 

To be sure, Leake as a high-mileage overachiever fights against late-year deterioation, fights against arm fade, as most sub-95 pitchers do.  Taking his last two years' worth of splits (which show good 1H, bad 2H) would edit the stats against Leake.  He has been the same pitcher for about 10 years and his second-half splits have been modest, most due to the fact that he DOES pitch in the second half.  For his career he's got a 2.87 CTL ratio in the first half, 2.73 in the second half.  

At his age, the less he pitches the fresher he'll be, but probably not in any unexpected way.



Leake's three true outcomes this year, and for his career, are 6.1 strikeouts, 2.1 walks and 1.1 homers off a 55% groundball ratio.  His pitches, both this year and past years, are:

√ 90 MPH fastball

√ 89 MPH cut fastball  (above two pitches thrown 70% of the time)

√ 81 MPH slider (13%)

√ 84 MPH changeup (10%)

√ Occasional change curve (6)

Leake isn't super tricky - he gets about a mediocre/average number of fishes, 30-32%, and about a mediocre number of swings in the zone.  He's just an average-solid ML pitcher who stays on the mound.


Let's compare this to another "Mr. Consistency" National League pitcher, Ian Kennedy.  Kennedy is not Leake's separated-at-birth twin; he is Mike Leake if Leake pitched up more in the zone:

Ian Kennedy 7.8 strikeouts, 3.7 walks, 1.9 homers on a 37% groundball ratio.  Arsenal

√ 92 MPH fastball

√ 87 MPH cutter (above two pitches thrown 73% of the time

√ 15% slow curve

√ 11% changeup

The template here has several defining characteristics:  AVERAGE fastball with PLUS command, excellent pitchability and poise, and a variety of good-but-not great offspeed pitches.

Other pitchers in this template include:

√ If Leake could excute his own pitches better, he'd be Rick Porcello.

√ This year Alex Cobb has sunk back to about Leake's level.  Cobb uses a bit more stuff and a bit less sequencing.

Hisashi Iwakuma is a quite-similar pitcher.  WBC-san has an extra level of control when he's right.

√ I've always been a Bronson Arroyo fan; he makes this game work with a bit less to go on.


Leake is not and will never be an impact pitcher, but ... GM's are in the bidness of STOPLOSS, too.  It's been weird watching the Mariners pile up 6, 8, 10 very good relievers and then never find a single one who can go five.  Gotta get old after a while.



Mike Leake has a 101 ERA+ this year, a 99 ERA+ for his lifetime, that coming in the NL.  This is his 9th season in the bigs and his minimum IP is 167, other than his rookie year.  You might take a look at the playoff teams and list the teams that have a pitcher comparable to this one in their rotation.


Dr D




He's a .500 starter on a team that is dying to have a .500 starter hold down a start every 5th day.  You've called him a 2 WAR pitcher, Doc, but he has not been the pitcher he was in Cincinnati - which is why St. Louis is happy to move him and free up salary even after having to throw some in.  Of course, they have minor league arms who are ready to go and we have "straws." They've given us Leake as a #4 starter and Marco as a #6 just to clear the decks.

Leake is a groundball pitcher in a league with juiced baseballs giving flyball pitchers headaches, so that's useful.  Seattle has a normally-good-fielding infield, which will also help. Moving to the AL won't help him as much, but he's still better than some other options (most of which the Ms have tried already).  His hits-per-9 have ballooned in St. Louis, though.  Perhaps that's defense, perhaps juiced balls also get through the infield faster, perhaps he's just catching too much of the plate with adequate-but-not-overpowering stuff.  

The Cardinals paid for a 3-WAR pitcher who only gave them 1 WAR.  The Mariners got the discount and are trying to pay for a 2-WAR pitcher they'll actually get. It should help stabilize the back of the rotation in the coming years, assuming he's able to stay as a rotation fixture. If Paxton can go 10 games over .500 and the rest of the rotation could just go .500, and the pen can blow just a handful of saves, teams can be fine.

Unfortunately the Mariners have had ONE starting pitcher with an FIP under 5 whose nickname is not tree-related: Andrew Albers. Other than his handful of innings and Paxton's once-again-injury-shortened campaign, the Mariners have had abominable starting pitching no matter who is on the mound.  If Leake can post a number around his career mark near 4 for the next 2-3 years the Mariners should carry him around on a wicker chair like C-3PO in the Ewok village.

These Mariners have had a lot of average-ish hitters and one great one.  They tried the same formula with the pitching staff but it's not working. Leake is part of the next campain of averageness and unlike Gallardo he might actually succeed.

With Seattle, the ability to be average is graded on a curve of greatness.


of the roster.  If it was a baseball sim game he's trading three 72s for two 73s to get marginal upgrades. Unfortunately we've gotten few actual upgrades, as those 73s have fallen off during the season.  His two big moves were Marte and Walker for Haniger and Segura (mostly a wash for this year) and Luis Gohara (who would be our best pitching prospect and is demolishing AAA) Thomas Burrows (a near-unhittable closer in the low-minors striking out 12 per in A-ball), and Ryan Yarbrough (lefty starter striking out 9 per while walking just 2 in AAA this year) for nothing, since Smyly was lost for the season and may not be back next year.

Seattle can't make up ground if they're either receiving even return or drastically losing deals. The hope is that Haniger is the real thing and makes that first deal a legit win, but that still only comes out at .500, much like the team.  

And while Seattle flails about but doesn't get anywhere, Dipoto's old team the Angels is passing us by - again. Just frustrating. Welcome to the boat, Leake - start bailing.


Teams, according to scout in attendance, that requested seats to see Otani: AZ, BAL, BOS, CHC, CIN, CLE, LAD, NYY, PIT, SEA, TEX, TOR, WAS.


M's have two scouts to see Otani


THAT would be a splash move, even if they don't let him do his thing as a 2-way player (although watching him DH every day and pitch every 5th day would be tremendous). Might as well at least throw your hat in the ring - the Ms have to get lucky sometime, and getting that extra $750k international bonus pool money could be for precisely this purpose.

Otani is the kind of player who could change the complexion of the Mariners in one stroke of the pen. Guess we'll have something to hold out hope for this offseason.


that would absolutely be a great get. And I'm optomistic about our chances too. Promise him pinch hitting duties for the first year at a minimum and then full time dh the following year after Cruz is done. 


If I remember correctly, Otani DHs 4 days, takes a day off and starts on day 6 in Japan. 

If an American team does something similar, I would see that as a big selling point for Otani. 

Which means you might be able to kill off 15 teams in a go.


The more things change, the more they stay the same. Every M's has some sort of rational for their decisions and moves, but when the dust settles they end up looking like children playing a men's game.


I am beginning to think that Leake isn't about '17 at all. We're talking a few starts, anyway. But that he was a better throw than Gallardo or Smyly at the 180 innings, 4.0 ERA prize.


There's nothing the Mariners like more than preparing for whatever year they are not currently playing in. At least they let Kyle Lewis back in the field after DHing him during most of the year to try to keep him healthy.  He started off on fire in the field, then they DHed him for a month where he was then terrible (.710 OPS as a DH, .855 as a CF) before returning him to the field.

I'd say it was precautionary and wise, but it's the Mariners and they really have no idea what either of those terms mean.

This'll make 7 HOF-level talents we've wasted, right? Griffey, A-Rod, Randy, Edgar, Ichiro, Felix and Cano? That doesn't include Moyer, Cruz, Bone, Olerud or other Hall Of The Very Good players. I'm trying to think of other teams with that much talent in  3-decade period who accomplished as little, but I'm coming up short right now.

But don't worry, Leake for 2018 is a terrifically moderate plan.


"Beyond 2017, the Astros will be on the hook for $40 million of the $56 million due newly acquired ace Justin Verlander, obtained late Thursday night from the Detroit Tigers for three prospects.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Tigers will pay $8 million of the $28 million the righthander will make in each of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Additionally, Nightengale reported the option year that existed in Verlander's contract for 2020 has been voided."

So, what was traded in M's equivalents to make Verlander cheaper than Leake? (Assuming 3x12 + 5 buyout for Leake.)


Isn't this like the third or fourth time Dipstick has traded for some middling mid-contract pitcher?

Wade Miley... Unmentionable... Leake...

What a garbage scow. 

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