So far this spring training it’s been smooth sailing for Cincinnati Reds‘ pitcher Mike Leake until today. Leake came into today’s split squad game against the Milwaukee Brewers with only five innings pitched, one run, no walks and five strikeouts.
Today proved to be a different story for Leake–one Reds’ fans may recall many times.
Leake struggled today, only going three and a third innings and allowing seven runs (six were earned) and 10 hits. Most of the damage was done in the first inning today when the Brewers put up a five spot against him.
After it was all said and done, Leake saw his pristine ERA of 1.80 in spring training balloon to 7.56–not a number many pitchers would be too happy with.
Take away the bad outing he had today, and Leake has done well enough to put enough pressure on the Reds to make a decision on whether or not to make him a starter over Aroldis Chapman. He’s certainly made a strong case against Chapman. Leake is without a doubt a competitor, and fans shouldn’t be surprised that he would not make it easy for the Reds to decide him and Chapman.
The one thing that I think separates him from Chapman is Leake’s ability to hit. Many pitchers (actually almost all pitchers) do not possess a strong bat. But Leake is a rare-breed pitcher whose bat makes it hard to get him out. Many pitchers can breeze through the pitcher’s spot 1-2-3, but not with Leake in the box.
So albeit a bad outing today, Leake is still working very hard to earn a spot in the rotation. I would not be surprised if he found his way into the rotation over Chapman, but look for Leake to have a short leash during the season.