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View Full Version : Did Mike Leake hit a wall?



Brutus
08-12-2010, 01:29 PM
It's generally accepted that he has. And make no mistake, I believe he's wearing down. However, I'm not completely convinced that's the case--at least entirely.

I think a lot of things are in play. First, I think Leake was the benefactor of at least some good fortune earlier in the year. I think that's now catching up to him.

Second, I think teams, the second time around, are making adjustments to him. That happens quite often with rookies. Now the onus is on him to make adjustments.

Third, I do think he's getting the ball up a bit more in jams than he was earlier in the year. Before, if a runner or two were on base, he was good at keeping the ball down and inducing a grounder. It seems now he's not doing that as much, giving him the bigger innings he wasn't surrendering previously.

But here are his peripherals from the first two-thirds of his season (90 innings) and since.

First 89.1 innings (starts through June 21)
Last 40.1 innings (starts from June 29)

ERA

Before: 2.92
Since: 5.58

K/9

Before: 5.8
Since: 4.9

BB/9

Before: 3.7
Since: 1.8

K/BB

Before: 1.6
Since: 2.7

HR/9

Before: 0.7
Since: 1.8

GB/FB

Before: 1.1
Since: 0.9

HR/FB

Before: 19.1
Since: 9.3

BABIP

Before: .289
Since: .340

FIP

Before: 4.03 (1.11 worse than actual ERA)
Since: 5.18 (0.40 better than actual ERA)


So I see a few things here. First, the obvious thing that jumps out is that the first 90 innings, Leake was benefitting from an unsustainably high HR/FB ratio. He was giving up a homer once for every 19 flyballs. Average is around 11. These past 40 innings or so, he's giving them up at a rate of one per every 9 flyballs. That's a sustainable number (unfortunately).

But it's not all a product of good or bad fortune. He is surrendering more flyballs right now than groundballs, which was not the case earlier in the year. That is also leading to an aggregate more homers allowed.

His strikeout rate, already mediocre previously, is down a bit more (though the good news is that he's cut his walks in half).

Lastly, his BABIP is a little high. I am not able to break down the xBABIP based on line drives and such, but I suspect it would not be much out of line with .300.

Putting it all together, he's actually pitching a little better than his ERA, and if his K's go back up and he gets back to the proportion of GB/FB he had earlier, he'll be fine. I think some of this coming down to earth is a realization of peripherals that weren't likely to keep up -- so the crash makes it seem like he's hitting more of a wall than he is.

Make no mistake, I think he's starting to hit a wall as it's affecting his ability to get out of jams and get those key grounders. He's hung a few balls in the zone he normally doesn't. But he's, in my opinion, also being hit by regression.

It's probably too late to expect another swing this season. But in the offseason with some rest and coming back making adjustments on hitters, I think he'll be in good shape.

mth123
08-12-2010, 08:13 PM
IMO The key for Leake is getting ahead 0-1 in the count. The first couple months of the year guys were taking the first pitch to size him up and he was getting ahead by throwing cookies in there. Now the league has figured it out and he doesn't get away with it anymore.

Leake has an expiration date in about 35 innings, but I don't think he's beyond his limits yet and I don't really think that is why his performance has dropped off. I think the league has simply taken away his advantage and now he's struggling to get out far superior competition to what he's faced before this year.

Brutus
08-12-2010, 08:56 PM
IMO The key for Leake is getting ahead 0-1 in the count. The first couple months of the year guys were taking the first pitch to size him up and he was getting ahead by throwing cookies in there. Now the league has figured it out and he doesn't get away with it anymore.

Leake has an expiration date in about 35 innings, but I don't think he's beyond his limits yet and I don't really think that is why his performance has dropped off. I think the league has simply taken away his advantage and now he's struggling to get out far superior competition to what he's faced before this year.

I honestly feel this has more to do with it than hitting the wall. I think he's starting to wear down, but while that's a contributing factor, I don't see him as having nothing left in the tank. I would personally either go with him entirely for the rest of the month, or pitch him out of the pen for a few weeks and then start building him back up as a 6th starter.

mth123
08-12-2010, 09:02 PM
I honestly feel this has more to do with it than hitting the wall. I think he's starting to wear down, but while that's a contributing factor, I don't see him as having nothing left in the tank. I would personally either go with him entirely for the rest of the month, or pitch him out of the pen for a few weeks and then start building him back up as a 6th starter.

I'd send him down. Without that first pitch advantage he's a borderline 5th starter at this point and needs to develop a bit more. He'll be back next year and I'd expect him to have mid-to-back of the rotation value, but in a penant race, he's AAA depth at this point IMO.