Was this deal you expected? Were you like me and holding out some rare hope that the San Francisco Giants would land David Price or Cole Hamels? Trading for Mike Leake from the Cincinnati Reds was an extremely Giantsy thing to do. He’s not the splashy front end starter type. Just a good, solid pitcher in his prime pitching years entering a rotation that has its home games at one of the more pitching friendly ballparks in all of baseball.
The price for Leake was not as steep as it would have been for one of the big names out there. The Giants gave up minor league RHP Keury Mella, and corner infielder Adam Duvall. Recently Mella played in the futures game over All-Star weekend and MLB.com rated him as the top prospect in the Giants organization. Duvall is a guy that needs to find regular playing time and there is no way he’s cracking that Giants infield any time soon. If the Reds want to get him at bats it may in the outfield. Duvall had 26 home runs and 25 doubles for Sacramento this season.
I liked Duvall as a Giant. He helped the team win a title last season. I love the fun fact that Adam Duvall’s first career hit was a home run off Mike Leake. By parting with Mella the Giants proved they feel comfortable with their organizational pitching depth. Tyler Beede, Phil Bickford, and Kyle Crick are probably at the top of the list now. Beede could be a part of the 2016 rotation.
This also means that Andrew Susac stays around. It’s clear there is no other player out there the Giants feel they need to trade for at this moment. Of course I wouldn’t argue with Aroldis Chapman coming to the Bay Area, but I don’t run the Giants or Reds. This is one of the best offenses in baseball and if they need to add depth to the bench it could come sometime in August by claiming a guy off waivers.
Tim Hudson is the odd man out in all this. He’s said that he’d accept a spot in the bullpen for the Giants. That starts another set of dominos. Who goes? Is it Yusmeiro Petit? It’s sure not Ryan Vogelsong who has been lights out since going back to the pen. We’ll see sometime today if Hudson heads to the DL or the bullpen.
I don’t know about you but I’m already thinking about Madison Bumgarner, Chris Heston, and Leake at the top in a playoff series. Every time one of those guys takes the hill it feels like the Giants have a chance to win that game. We’ve learned over the last few years that chance is the most important thing. Jake Peavy did the same thing in his start Thursday.
It’s crazy to think that Matt Cain is the biggest question mark in the rotation right now. Those words are strange to type. In fact typing Matt Cain’s name at all lately has been rare. He’s been missed and I hope he picks up where he left off at some point.
Wendy Thurm shared how Leake stacks up in the Giants rotation. I peeked at Brooks Baseball and it looks like Leake is relying on his Sinker and Cutter more than any other pitches lately. He throws one of those 2/3 of the time. It indicates he’s pitching to contact and getting ground ball outs. He should continue that trend because the Giants have a good defense that knows how to handle its home park.
Each of the past 4 years Leake has started a game at AT&T Park. In those 4 starts he’s gone 9, 8, 6, and 8 innings while only allowing 3 total runs. He never allowed more than 1 run in any start at 3rd and King. There was this one time, when he was a rookie, that Leake gave up 6 runs on 6 hits in only 1/3rd of an inning at AT&T. But we don’t have to mention that. Overall he has a 2.59 ERA in San Francisco in 31.1 innings.
How’s Leake pitching lately? He’s got a 1.25 ERA over his last 5 starts. Opponents are batting .183 against him with no homers and 7 doubles. He’s averaging just over 5 strikeouts a game and walking about a batter every 9 innings. Leake’s worst start this season came in Cincinnati against the Giants back in May. That was the game Brandon Crawford hit his grand slam.
Acquiring Leake was a good trade for the Giants. He’s a free agent after this season and GM Bobby Evans has already said that Leake was going to be a guy the Giants pursued this offseason. Now they have 2, hopefully 3, months to sell him on San Francisco.
I think the largest compliment you can give a Giants move is that is was a Giantsy thing to do. This trade fits that definition perfectly.