Mike Leake to Patch the Giants’ Rotation


Thursday capped the San Francisco Giants only move at this year’s trade deadline, Mike Leake. Leake was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in return for highly coveted prospect Keury Mella and Adam Duvall.

Duvall had a taste of the league last season, getting in spot starts at first and third base, and pinch-hitting opportunities, but found himself in a log jam for more playing time. Mella was a tough piece to let go, as there was always potential with him, and was still located in high A-ball San Jose Giants.

Tyler Beede, however, was able to be kept through the acquisition of Leake, and he has progressed his way quickly to Double A Richmond.

What the Giants got in return could be the glue for the rotation that was springing a “leak”.

If it weren’t for Johnny Cueto, who also was dealt this trade deadline to the Kansas City Royals, Leake would have all the attention for the success for the Reds rotation in 2015. Leake is having a career year so far registering a 9-5 record, a 1.149 WHIP, 3.56 ERA, and 136.2 innings through 21 starts. Cueto has been electric the last two seasons as one of the game’s best, but was blocked by Cy Young Award winner and MVP from a year ago, Clayton Kershaw.

Kind of a tough name to beat.

Pitching in Cincinnati at the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, Leake and others in the rotation would have to annually battle starts at home, as it caused the pitcher’s numbers to inflate. Luckily, Leake has managed to keep his ERA under his career average of 3.87.

While 2013 looks to be his best season of his career so far, this season Leake has taken strides in his game to become a top of the rotation starter.

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Solidifying more ground balls this year, he has developed into more of a finesse pitcher. Leake can strike guys out and reach double digits at times, but he is known for going out there and creating ways to get guys out. The long ball has not been kind to Leake in his career due to playing in one of baseball’s best hitters park, but he has managed to keep that number down in 2015 (14).

Now making the switch over to San Francisco, Leake will be thrilled to have a solid defensive unit and a vast ballpark to work with. The home run total should drop and his impressive numbers on the year will continue to look superb and provide Madison Bumgarner and Chris Heston with some help.

With the acquisition of Leake, the Giants had to part with Tim Hudson from the rotation and place him on the DL once again to make room. Hudson is now 40 and has had a decorated career and helped contribute to a magical 2014 season and earning his first World Series. As a class act, Hudson handled it well as he truly is a team player, according to his wife’s Twitter page:

Hudson’s struggles are not alone, as Matt Cain‘s return from an offseason recovery for an elbow surgery has not appeared to go as planned. Cain has had two great outings since the start of his season, but the rest of the starts have been shaky. While it could be rust and somewhat of his Spring Training, classic Cain has not returned and doesn’t appear to arrive anytime soon.

Ryan Vogelsong started the season in the rotation and now has found himself contributing out of the bullpen now. Voglesong has shown flashes of brilliance and a month of May for the ages, but has since struggled to find that form, which has bumped him out of the rotation.

Tim Lincecum has continued to be the Lincecum of the last three seasons of stress and pain for the Giants’ fans. After being diagnosed with a chronic hip condition that is degenerating the bone, it sort of seems to put the puzzle into place for the former two-time Cy Young Award winner. After a brilliant start to the season, it all came undone as he would fail to get past the fifth inning, and then the DL trip occurred, first for the linearm off the arm, then it was further looked into as the hip was also the cause.

Jake Peavy had an awful start to the 2015 season as his back was an issue and left doubts for the Giants how effective he would be the rest of the season. Since his return, Peavy has been a contributing factor once again like his arrival around the trade deadline of last season.

Hudson, Vogelsong, Lincecum, and Peavy have been the back end of the rotation all season, and caused it to leak into using the bullpen more.

The rotation needed to be addressed and Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean, and Larry Baer did the necessary tweak, going with Leake. Missing out on Cole Hamels and David Price stung a little, but didn’t cost the franchise what it did for the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.

Bringing in Leake should be the “flex seal” this rotation needs to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division and potentially make it into the playoffs for yet another run.

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Losing Mella from the farm system might be a head scratcher as Leake could possibly be a one-year rental, but this is not a Carlos Beltran situation from 2011. The Giants are in far better shape than they were that one season Beltran was brought in, and the Giants have developed a band of players who play together and are resilient.

Leake’s enthusiasm to join the Giants seemed evident on his Twitter page:

That energy should be exciting as it appears he has anticipated this move and is down to business. Leake, the California native, is back in his home state.

The Giants and Leake are not focused on the length of his contract, as this year is his last before he tests the market. They are both determined to get to the postseason and bring yet another title to the city of San Francisco and the Giants’ fans, a fourth in six years.

Sunday, we get a first look at the newest member of the Giants baseball team, as Leake takes on the Rangers sporting the orange and black. The Giants ruined Hamel’s inaugural start in Arlington on Saturday night beating the Rangers 9-7, after decimating him weeks ago when the Philadelphia Phillies came to town.

One start will not set Leake’s fate, but it will test if he will contribute to the Giants down the stretch — ideally, into the postseason for another October run.

Leake is no plumber, but will do his best to seal those “leaks” in the defending champ’s rotation.

Next: Tim Hudson Sets Shining Example as Perfect Team Player