Projecting the 2018 Seattle Mariners: Mike Leake

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 1: Starter Mike Leake
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 1: Starter Mike Leake /
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The Seattle Mariners were busy adding talent in the middle of the 2017 season. While he was the last player brought in, no mid-season addition will play a big role than starting pitcher Mike Leake.

Mike Leake, a former first round pick from Arizona State, joined the Mariners on August 30. The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher made 5 starts for Seattle, and was nothing short of awesome. In 32 innings, Leake posted a 2.25 FIP, 1.06 WHIP, with 27 strikeouts and just 2 walks.

Overall, Leake had a very Leake like year. He posted a 3.92 ERA, with a 3.91 xFIP over 186 innings, striking out 130 batters while walking just 37 hitters. Over the past 6 seasons, Leake has been the model of consistency, making 30 or more starts every season.

Leake does not have electric stuff, but to borrow an old school cliché, knows how to pitch. He uses a 5 mix, using his 3 off-speed pitches effectively. He uses his sinking fastball, to induce a ton of ground balls, posting a ground ball rate of over 50% each of the past 4 seasons.

Leake gives the Mariners exactly what they need: a solid, middle of the rotation arm, with no durability concerns to speak of. It is extremely likely that Leake will lead the Mariners in both innings pitched and starts made.

Relying on a guy like Leake to anchor the staff is not ideal, but he is a nice pitcher to have, posting a 11.5 fWAR over the past 5 seasons. But what will all of this translate to in 2018?

Sodo Mojo’s 2018 Projection for Mike Leake: 186 innings, 79 ER, 133 K, 195 hits, 36 BB, 3.82 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 1.24 WHIP

With these numbers, Leake is probably a 2.5-3.0 fWAR player next season, which should be music to Mariners fans ears. Leake will never be an “ace” but the Mariners need him to be at least a very good 4, if not a solid 3. Otherwise, Seattle fans will have nothing to look forward to in October except the next Seahawks game.

Leake was an excellent in-season addition by GM Jerry Dipoto. He got Mike Leake for almost nothing, and got the Cardinals to pick up 30% of Leake’s salary over the next 3 or 4 years. Now, the Mariners need Mike Leake, and he is a pretty solid pitcher to bet on.