Despite shrinking velocity separation from his primary offerings and corresponding dip in effectiveness in 2019 (.442 slugging vs .323 in 2018), Leake’s changeup continued its 6-year trend of increasing usage to nearly 20% last year. Showing similar armside movement to his sinker, the pitch continues to be a below-average whiff generator (8.1%) but an excellent groundball pitch, especially against lefties (69.8%).
Leake’s curveball showed a significant decline in its already-below-average movement and was not been a significant part of his repertoire in 2019 (8%). Most commonly thrown down and away to righties or down and in to lefties (37.2% Zone), the curve still generated middling chase (34.6%) and whiff rates (13.2%), and with a .286 Iso against, seems to be past its prime.
As the counterpart to his primary sinker, the cutter was Leake’s 2nd favorite offering in 2019 (26.8%) and was generally the more effective, though still average, pitch (.441 slugging against) with better results against LHB (.393). Like most of his repertoire, the cutter is not a significant swing-and-miss pitch (8.6% SwStr) with modest gloveside cut and depth and diminishing velocity (86.8 mph).
2019 was a year to forget for Mike Leake’s primary offering. Velocity continued its downward trend to a career low 88.4 mph and with it came a significant decline of over 3 inches in armside run over the last 2 seasons. While still generating some sink, batters were able to elevate this year (45.9% GB) and therefore the typical pitch-to-contact tendency (92.2% contact) did not yield positive results as the league hit .413 and slugged a remarkable .797 against it.
Leake trotted through Seattle and Arizona under the radar with a slider than registered as a Money Pitch thanks to a 45.1% O-Swing%, 40.5% Zone rate and surprising 15.3% SwStr. It also posted a low walk rate, 2.0 BB%. Who knew?!
Leake’s sinker is his primary pitch, but only slightly. He induced more fly balls yet was able to keep those balls in the park. This may be due to throwing this pitch in the zone about 10% more often than previous seasons.
Usually his best pitch, Leake’s cutter lost a step in 2018. He allowed more contact out of the zone with more line drives resulting in more base hits.
Leake relied more on his changeup in 2018 than previous years. He was able to limit home runs while keeping the ball on the ground.
Not one of his better breaking pitches, Leake was able to get more success out of his knuckle curve. He was able to induce more whiffs, especially on pitches out of the zone.
Leake’s slider usually is one of his best. Yet in 2018, he got less whiffs and allowed significantly more long balls. He threw the pitch in the zone much more producing more contact.