It's cliche, but Mike Leake is better for the real thing than fantasy. Consider this: since 2011, he's one of only five pitchers to throw at least 165 innings each season but has recorded an ERA below 3.40 only once with just one season punching out more than 160 hitters. In 2017, he pitched for his fourth organization as the Cardinals dealt the righty to the Mariners in late August. Leake excelled in the American League down the stretch, recording a 2.53 ERA with 27 whiffs to just two walks in 32 innings. Safeco Field and Busch Stadium are comparable pitching parks so the inevitable regression won't be too damaging, but even in today's increased run-scoring landscape, Leake's career 16 percent strikeout rate is a detriment. That said, Leake's reliability and durability is worth something. He should get decent run support, making Leake a streaming candidate for mixed leagues, especially at home. In AL-only, he's a nice complement to a high-strikeout but potentially risky starter.
Leake was able to manage a sore lat muscle after getting traded to Seattle, and is poised to be one of the team's rotation anchors in 2018, Josh Horton of MLB.com reports. He posted a 2.53 ERA and 2.25 FIP in five starts after joining the Mariners, but was shut down once they were eliminated from playoff contention. The move seemed to suit Leake, a San Diego native who went to Arizona State. "There definitely is a culture difference between the two," Leake said of leaving St. Louis. "I think a laid-back environment is good for the game of baseball in general. It's such a long season. You've got to be loose to know each other better, so it's nice to be back west." Leake won't be a major difference maker in fantasy, but at his best he can eat innings and qualify for wins without sinking ratios.
Leake is dealing with a minor lat injury and will not make another start before the end of the regular season, Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune reports. Leake has been dealing with the lat issues since coming over from the Cardinals via trade earlier in the year, and seeing as the Mariners are already out of playoff contention, they'll play it safe and end his season early. The 29-year-old compiled a 2.53 ERA and 27:2 K:BB in 32 innings (five starts) for the Mariners this season. Andrew Moore is expected to start in his place Saturday.
Leake (10-13) fired 6.2 innings Sunday against the Indians, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out five on his way to the loss. The right-hander was handed the tall task of taking down Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, and he certainly did his best to keep his team in the game. Leake exhibited excellent control all afternoon, walking none and throwing nearly 75 percent of his pitches for strikes, but a pair of RBI doubles in the fourth followed by a solo homer in the sixth ultimately sealed his fate. Since coming to Seattle via trade, the 29-year-old has posted a tidy 2.53 ERA, and he'll look to finish strong in his final start of the season next weekend against the Angels.
Leake gave up only one run on six hits over 6.2 innings Tuesday while striking out five but didn't factor into the decision in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers. The veteran righty found himself locked in an unlikely pitcher's duel with Martin Perez into the seventh inning, but the Mariners couldn't produce the offense to give Leake his fourth straight win since coming to Seattle. He now has a 2.13 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 22:2 K:BB in 25.3 innings with the M's, but he'll face a tough test Sunday at home against Cleveland.
Leake (9-12) picked up the win over the Angels on Friday, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits over six innings while striking out five. The veteran righty has now delivered two straight quality starts since joining the Mariners, posting a 12:1 K:BB in 13 innings with his new club and lowering his ERA to 4.10 on the year. With James Paxton (pectoral) and Felix Hernandez (shoulder) potentially rejoining the rotation next week, the date of Leake's next outing is up in the air, but if he stays on a regular schedule it would come Wednesday on the road against the Rangers.