Postgame: What to do with Leake?
Many people have wondered and asked me what the Reds would do with Mike Leake as the innings piled up and the season got towards the late summer. We now seem to be getting closer to some sort of answer.
Dusty Baker admitted tonight after Leake’s latest struggle that the Reds have some thinking to do about his future this season.
Another rough outing — seven runs in the fourth inning — led to a 7-3 loss to the Cardinals. Leake was done after 3 2/3 innings. Seven-straight hits in the fourth, including Skip Schumaker’s grand slam were his undoing.
Here’s the pickle the Reds are in: he has 129 2/3 innings logged this season. His career high last season at ASU was 142. The original target was 170. Dusty Baker was asked if fatigue has become a factor.
“Possibly. We discussed that,” Baker said. “He had a big inning in Pittsburgh but that was led by a couple of different variables – a hit batsman and a potential play on a groundball. We just have to discuss it and talk about it some more, which we already have. I’m sure this will be a topic of discussion real soon, probably [Tuesday].”
There is no fatigue issue, according to Leake.
“I feel great. I’m just hitting a rough patch,” said Leake, who is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break. He is 7-4 with a 4.16 ERA in 21 starts overall after a 6-1 start in the first half.
Aaron Harang is throwing his first simulated game Tuesday and will need a rehab assignment. Harang is not an option to replace Leake. Homer Bailey has three mostly solid rehab starts in the books and one more scheduled. That could be a possiblity. The Reds have to wait 10 days to bring back Travis Wood.
Leake admitted his biggest problem lately is throwing too many strikes. After a few spins through the league now, there is a book on him and scouts/video/etc. have exposed him some.
“That’s kind of what’s been starting to play a factor,” Leake said. “They know I’m going throw strikes. They’re going to come out aggressive. I need to maybe find a way to get them to swing at bad pitches instead of pitches they want.”
The good —
*Carlos Fisher dropped in with a 3 1/3 scoreless innings after Leake departed. Fisher struck out five and allowed two hits. That’s the second time he’s been a bullpen saver during a rough night for a starter. I’ll be curious to see if Fisher will stay up when he probably can’t pitch again for a few days or if the Reds will seek another long man.
*Laynce Nix was 1-for-3 tonight and has 12 hits in his last 24 at-bats.
The not-so-good —
*Brandon Phillips was 0-for-5 and is hitless in his last 10 ABs.
*One thing that surprised me a little tonight is how fast Reds fans on Twitter turned on Leake. The dude was a rookie wunderkind to many of you for skipping college and getting it done in the big leagues during the first half. I know this is a pennant race and the stakes are higher, but I’d have thought it would take a lot more two bad starts for the drums start beating for Leake to be sent out.
Leake is a big boy and doesn’t need me to defend him. I’m not going to start now. But again, that caught me off guard. It probably shouldn’t have.
More quotes —
“We hit some balls pretty good. The guy is tough. He had his curveball going today, big time. That was his out pitch. His fastball was pretty good but it was moving.” — Dusty Baker on Chris Carpenter, who is 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts vs. the Reds in 2010.
“I do the same things I always do against anybody else, and that is to watch video and get a game plan put together and try to execute. These guys over there obviously are in the situation they’re in for a good reason, and that’s because they can hit, for one, and they’ve got some guys that can pitch over there too. it’s definitely a challenge, but every challenge is a good challenge. When you’re going against a group of guys that you know are going to compete and they’re going to do everything they can to beat you, it’s a lot of fun.” — Carpenter on his success vs. the Reds. He’s won nine-straight decisions against them and 11-3 with a 2.00 ERA in 17 starts lifetime.
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