The 30-year old veteran pitcher has been his normal inning eating self throughout 2018 as he’s already racked up 86.2 innings in 14 starts. Leake’s success this season has been a major part of the Mariners success throughout the first half of the 2018 season.
On the bump, Leake has posted a slash line of 4.26/4.43/4.26 which is perfectly mediocre but consistent across the board. The fact that he’s not getting unlucky with home runs while also doing a eh job of limiting base runners has led to a consistent pitcher that has kept Seattle’s offense in the games and that’s all they really need him to do. Leake’s slightly in FIP is probably because he’s posting his highest walk rate (5.5%) in three years, but it’s still within his career norm (5.6%). It’s good news that his walk rate is sustainable as it because his strike out rate is below his average.
His strikeout rate isn’t exceedingly low, at 15%, but it is something to keep an eye on. Especially since Leake is inducing a little less swings on pitches inside the strike zone this season. Now the good news is that his command is still there.
Now compare that to last season.
It’ll be interesting to see if batters continue to not swing at pitches inside of the zone. If they don’t, we will continue to see Leake’s strikeout rate hover below average this season.
The good news for the 30-year old is that he’s still inducing ground balls — because he keeps his pitches down around their knees; the bad news is that his ground ball rate is down this season and his fly ball rate is up…along with his hard contact rate. That usually leads to a pitcher that gives up a ton of dingers, but Leake’s home run to fly ball ratio has managed to stay around his career norms at 13.8%.
Unless the veteran can reduce his fly ball rate (or his hard contact rate) we’re likely to see Leake give up more home runs than he has so far this season.