Cardinals Starter Mike Leake Goes Three Scoreless Innings In Spring Debut

By Beth Chapman
Mar. 01, 2017

St. Louis Cardinals at Champion Stadium, Ft. Myers to face the Atlanta Braves. Mike Leake makes his Spring debut facing Braves Mike Foltynewicz. 

Mike Leake signed with the Cardinals in the offseason 2015 and was third man in their rotation for 2016.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Leake signed with the Cardinals in the 2015 off-season, a free agent and formerly pitched with the Cincinnati Reds. A starter who kept the ball on the ground and was able to go deep into a game. Last season, his first with the Cardinals, he was 9-12/4.69 ERA. Getting adjusted to his new team, management, and could have had better defense - and, offense to help him out, in my opinion. And, dealing with a bout of Shingles, put him on the 15 Day DL. Still, a solid pitcher and "seasoned". Being in the majors for seven seasons, he holds a 3.99 career ERA. However, the 2016 season is over and part of baseball history. 

LEAKE'S SPRING DEBUT

Yesterday, staring against the Braves, Leake the first Cardinals starter to go past two innings, went three scoreless with three strikeouts. He did not allow a hit, and issued no free passes. He faced a total of nine hitters. He was 6-0 groundouts/fly-outs. Leake was perfect. 

We want to see more of yesterday in his starts for this coming season.  Last Spring (video) - March 14, 2016. With a year under his belt with the Cardinals, coming back from a very unpleasant illness, I believe we will see better results from Leake.

Some fans will say, "He was pitching against minor leaguers", means nothing. Maybe. But, as we have seen from our own Cardinals non-roster/invitees, given the right pitch, they can hit. Leake did not serve up advantage pitches. 

"He already looks so much sharper than when we saw him early on last year," manager Mike Matheny said after the 2-0 loss. "He's in a great place." (Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com) And, per Leake, "I think I learned throughout the last four months of last year that I was able to get myself going in a better direction than what I was," Leake said. "I'm pretty decent at getting the first two strikes, but something I have struggled with in my career is putting away more often with a more effective offspeed pitch."

I would say in yesterday's game, Leake found what he needed to do and did it well. Cardinals need his expertise to continue. Not only during Spring games, but into the 2017 season, no matter if the defense; or, offense has his back or not. His goal - to keep runners off the bags. And, Cardinals fans, who have watched over past seasons, know he's quite capable. 

"Off the field, Leake has put on 10 pounds since reporting to camp weighing 165. He hopes to add about five more within the next month to finish building back the strength sapped by shingles late this past season."  

Cardinals reliever Robby Rowland followed in the fourth. He loaded the bases and got stung by, none other, former Cincinnati Reds Brandon Phillips. Phillips connected for a double and 2 RBI. That was the only runs for the Braves; however, enough to hand them the win and handing Rowland his first Spring loss. 

LENGTH OF GAME

Just a note - yesterday's game took a total of two hours and 11 minutes. Baseball too long? Leave it alone, Commissioner Rob Manfred. IT'S BASEBALL