It seems to me that Leake is very much at the mercy of umpires, more so than most pitchers. He doesn't really have swing and miss stuff. And unlike Arroyo, he doesn't get by on deception and confusion. Rather, he's got that moving two-seamer that he can throw to either side. And when he's getting calls on the corners, he can be really effective. But when he's not getting the corners, he ends up either walking guys, giving up homers (because he gets too much of the plate) or both.
I was just looking at the plate discipline stats for pitchers on Fangraphs. I think it's pretty interesting stuff. This is 2011-13.
Name O-Swg% Z-Swg% Swing% O-Cnt% Z-Cnt% Cntct% Zone% F-Stk% SwStr%
Johnny Cueto 33.0 % 68.1 % 47.8 % 72.0 % 88.2 % 81.7 % 42.0 % 59.6 % 8.6 %
Mat Latos 33.0 % 65.0 % 48.0 % 66.0 % 85.5 % 78.3 % 46.7 % 62.1 % 10.1 %
Bronson Arroyo 31.1 % 64.3 % 46.2 % 78.0 % 90.9 % 86.1 % 45.5 % 65.4 % 6.3 %
Homer Bailey 30.7 % 68.4 % 48.1 % 64.7 % 88.2 % 80.1 % 46.1 % 64.3 % 9.4 %
Mike Leake 30.5 % 64.8 % 45.2 % 72.2 % 90.6 % 83.5 % 43.0 % 60.2 % 7.3 %
Without more analysis, I'm not sure what meaningful variances are, but a few things stand out to me with Leake. Of the Reds 5 SP:
- He's got the lowest O-Swing% (guys are least likely to chase his pitches out of the zone)
- He's also got a low Z-Swing% (guys are more apt to take strikes against him)
- He's got a high Contact% (when guys do swing, they are more likely to make contact against him)
I think this generally supports the narrative I laid out above. Leake is most successful when he can get guys to take that fastball that runs back over the plate.