Days like yesterday make a Cardinals fan less optimistic about the team qualifying for the postseason.
Late Sunday afternoon, the Cubs were doing this:
A few hours later the Cardinals were doing this:
The guy on the right-hand side of that 2nd Tweet is Cardinals pitcher Mike Leake, who seemed to be under the impression that ‘Little League Classic’ meant that he’d be facing off against actual Little League players.
On March 10th, I wrote an article on this site with the headline”The Cardinals Need a Big Year From Mike Leake“.
After signing one of the biggest free agent contracts the Cardinals had ever given out, this is what Mike Leake produced in 2016 (for 12,000,000 dollars):
- 9-12 record
- 4.69 era
- 203 hits surrendered in 176.2 innings pitched
- 0.5 war
So far in 2017, this is what Mike Leake has produced (for 15,000,000 dollars)
- 7-12 record
- 4.16 era
- 163 hits surrendered in 147.0 innings pitched
- 0.7 war
The Cardinals dug themselves a hole the first half of the season and only recently have clawed their way back into playoff contention. As the pressure of a season mounts, you’d hope that the players on your team would step up to the challenge.
Here are Mike Leake’s last 5 starts:
- 0-4 record
- 24 earned runs
- 40 hits surrendered in 23.1 innings pitched
In the month of August (so far), Leake has a 10.31 era and is averaging 4.2 innings per start. Last night he could only make it through 3.
If you combine all his starts in July and August, he’s 1-6 and was unable to get past the 5th inning in 7 of his 9 starts.
On May 24th, Leake pitched 8 innings of 1 run baseball against the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine.
It was impressive then. And it is probably more impressive now considering what the Dodgers have done since. I remember talking openly after that start about Mike Leake not just making the All-Star team, but actually starting ahead of Clayton Kershaw.
1.91 ERA? Sterling.
His starts were turning into must-see TV.
5 days later, the same Dodgers came to St. Louis and beat Mike Leake and the Cardinals 5-1. The start of 4 consecutive losses that not only knocked him out of any starter talk for the All-Star Game, but off the roster completely.
He briefly righted the ship with a solid three-game stretch in late June.
But since Independence day, he’s been more the punk than the sparkler.
Maybe Mike Leake is hurt.
Seems unlikely since his stretch of poor performance has been over the course of months, not days or weeks.
The more likely scenario is that Mike Leake is, well Mike Leake.
A pitcher who got paid on the good starts, when the bad starts throughout his career are just as prevalent.
If the Cardinals miss the postseason in 2017, there will be many reasons why:
- Specious management
- Questionable roster construction
- Poor defense
- Regression from young guns
- Trouble with closers
Mike Leake will be on that list.
The Cardinals invested in him. Gave him respect. Placed their future in no small part on his arm.
It hasn’t worked out so far.
And after last night’s nationally televised loss, I think it’s fair to say that Mike Leake is most certainly not having the ‘big year’ the Cardinals needed.
Photo: STL Today