- Rating: 5.22
- Age: 32
- 2019 stats: 4.29 ERA, 32 starts, 197 IP, 5.19 FIP, 102 ERA+
- 2019 salary: $16 million ($5 million paid by St. Louis)
- 2020 status: $15 million ($4 million paid by St. Louis, $8 million paid by Seattle)
Did you know Mike Leake went to ASU? Drafted 8th overall in the 2009 draft after an outstanding junior season that saw him go 16-1 with a 1.71 ERA across 18 starts, Leake was seen as a high-floor prospect, one that would reach the MLB quickly. And boy did he ever. After a short Arizona Fall League appearance in 2009, he broke into the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation the following season and has been a mainstay across 4 teams. The results have been adequate, Mike’s a perfectly average pitcher, giving you 32 starts and close to 200 innings of league average ERA.
And for that consistency, he cashed in. St. Louis paid him $80 million over 5 years off a solid stretch of 3.70 ERA. Leake struggled, pitching to ERAs over 5 across the next two seasons before an in-season trade to Seattle returned him to the Mike Leake of old, pitching to a 4.16 ERA over 350+ innings.
Outside of baseball, Mike Leake has lived in Arizona for over half his life. He has a home in Paradise Valley and his parents have a winter home in the Valley. His father, Chris, is paralyzed from the waist down due to a fall in 2013 and when Mike was a free agent, there was talks of him accepting less money in free agency from Arizona in order to be closer to his father.
Mike started the year with Seattle and like most, struggled with the long ball, giving up a career-high 1.71 HR/9 but his ERA stayed low (4.27), thanks to his continued ability to not walk anyone (1.25 BB/9) and strike out enough batters (6.57 K/9). His highlight actually came as a Mariner, when he threw 8 innings of perfect ball.
He finished that outing with just a complete game 1-hitter, allowing a single and walk to start off the 9th before shutting down the Angels to complete the blemished game.
A month earlier saw Mike in some trade rumors with our very own baseball team, with the teams almost striking a deal in early June to send the righty to the D-backs, but talks stalled and Alex Young broke out instead.
Flash forward to the trade deadline, where a flurry of last-minute moves had the D-backs dealing Greinke away and in a surprise, had another trade up their sleeve.
#DBacks acquire Mike Leake, source tells The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2019
Leake struggled out of the gate with his new club, giving up 16 runs (15 earned) and 8 homers across 3 starts and 16.1 innings to make everyone second guess the acquisition. But over his last 7 starts, he pitched to a 3.09 ERA, averaging over 6 innings per start in what we’d hope is a sign of things to come.
Leake is a lock for the rotation next year, and if things go as planned, he’ll continue to give 32 starts and 200 innings. While the homers are an issue, he gave up 41 (!!!) last year, he still pitched well enough to be under league average (4.54). Cost isn’t an issue, as the D-backs owed only $6 million of the remaining $30 million on his deal at the time of the trade in July. It does remain to be seen in which starting rotation he’ll actually finish the year. With multiple starters returning from injury and high-level pitching prospects knocking on the door, it wouldn’t surprise to see Leake in another uniform next season. But for now, we’ll just enjoy 3 runs allowed over 6 innings from Mike start to start.