Though the main story from the Cincinnati Reds‘ 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday will likely revolve around the fact that the Cincinnati offense finally came out to play, scoring more than five runs in a game for the first time in 11 contests, it’s difficult to overlook the contributions of Mike Leake, who was the beneficiary of that run support.
The right-hander’s last outing on the mound was not one to remember because of its brevity. In fact, his three-inning start, combined with Tony Cingrani‘s buzzy early-season success, even started to generate some rumbling to the question of whether Leake deserved a spot on the starting rotation when Johnny Cueto returns from the DL.
Those doubts will likely be somewhat muted for now, though, after his strong 5.2-inning outing in which he shut down the Cubs until the gas tank started to run out.
With nine hits going against him, you could definitely say that Leake was bent in his start — but he didn’t break. After scattering five singles through the first five frames, the 25-year-old ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing both of the runs against him with one out in a three-hit sequence that included a pair of doubles.
Instead of completely falling apart, though, the hurler came back with a strikeout, before being forced to hand things over to his bullpen after another single.
That pitchers can get BABIP’d from time to time isn’t uncommon, and it’s how a pitcher responds to the test that shows their mettle, so to speak. On this start, at least, Leake’s most important number was a zero that he hadn’t seen much of this year — namely, the one in the base-on balls department.
Friday was just the second time out of his six starts that the righty did not allow a single free pass, and the fact that he continued to attack hitters even after getting into trouble, instead of getting fine and working himself into more deep water, shows a composure and control that got him straight to the majors from the draft to begin with.
So, perhaps there is a reason to Dusty Baker‘s seemingly almost-unreasonable preference for him, after all.