Mike Leake
Mike Leake
31-Year-Old PitcherSP
Seattle Mariners
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Leake started at least 30 games for the seventh straight season, surpassing 185 innings for the fifth time in that span. Leake generally defines a league-average pitcher, at least in terms of ratios as his career 16.1 K% is well below the norm. He gets by with pinpoint control, as evidenced by a career 5.5 BB%. As a groundball pitcher, he keeps the ball in the yard, allowing 1.09 HR/9, an acceptable mark by today's standards. Leake features an 89-mph sinker and mixes in a cutter and change, with the occasional slider and curve. Streaming for home games wasn't an effective ploy in 2018 as he didn't take advantage of Safeco Field's pitcher-friendly dimensions, posting better numbers in road affairs. That was likely a sample-size anomaly, and durability and reliability are important, but Leake's pedestrian punchouts are a detriment in mixed-league play. Read Past Outlooks
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$Signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Cardinals in December of 2015. Contract includes a mutual $18 million option ($5 million buyout) for 2021. Traded to the Mariners in August of 2017.
Pitches well in loss
PSeattle Mariners
April 16, 2019
Leake (2-1) allowed two runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and no walks across six innings during a loss to the Indians on Tuesday.
The veteran faced the minimum through three frames, but in the fourth, the Indians broke through with a pair of runs. Having trouble the second time through the order has been common for Leake this season. Going into Tuesday, opposing hitters had an OPS nearly 200 points higher against Leake the second time they faced them than the first. Owners will have to keep an eye on how he makes adjustments during the game to avoid this kind of problem moving forward. Leake is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 23.1 innings this season. His next scheduled start is on the road against the Angels.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .286 806 104 40 214 46 4 17
Since 2017vs Right .275 862 166 35 223 46 3 31
2019vs Left .263 61 14 4 15 4 0 1
2019vs Right .350 41 7 0 14 2 0 4
2018vs Left .288 355 41 12 97 19 3 6
2018vs Right .274 429 78 22 110 25 2 17
2017vs Left .288 390 49 24 102 23 1 10
2017vs Right .268 392 81 13 99 19 1 10
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2017Home 3.84 1.28 213.1 10 13 0 6.2 1.5 1.1
Since 2017Away 4.46 1.32 181.2 12 11 0 6.1 2.0 1.1
2019Home 3.00 1.42 12.0 1 1 0 8.3 1.5 0.0
2019Away 4.76 1.41 11.1 1 0 0 7.9 1.6 4.0
2018Home 4.55 1.34 87.0 4 5 0 5.9 1.6 1.0
2018Away 4.20 1.26 98.2 6 5 0 5.7 1.7 1.2
2017Home 3.38 1.22 114.1 5 7 0 6.2 1.4 1.3
2017Away 4.77 1.38 71.2 5 6 0 6.4 2.4 0.5
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Stat Review
How does Mike Leake compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
87.6 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
It's cliche, but Leake is better for the real thing than fantasy. Consider this: since 2011, he's one of only five pitchers to throw at least 165 innings each season but has recorded an ERA below 3.40 only once with just one season punching out more than 160 hitters. In 2017, he pitched for his fourth organization as the Cardinals dealt the righty to the Mariners in late August. Leake excelled in the American League down the stretch, recording a 2.53 ERA with 27 whiffs to just two walks in 32 innings. Safeco Field and Busch Stadium are comparable pitching parks so the inevitable regression won't be too damaging, but even in today's increased run-scoring landscape, Leake's career 16 percent strikeout rate is a detriment. That said, Leake's reliability and durability is worth something. He should get decent run support, making Leake a streaming candidate for mixed leagues, especially at home. In AL-only, he's a nice complement to a high-strikeout but potentially risky starter.
Coming off back-to-back seasons with a 3.70 ERA, Leake struggled en route to his first losing season since 2014. Fueling the fire was an uncharacteristically poor showing against right-handed hitters. After holding them to a batting average below .265 for three straight years, his luck ran out and they put up a .304 average and .752 OPS against him in 2016. Meanwhile, he continued freely allowing home runs. In all seven of his seasons, he's allowed at least 0.97 per nine. A slight rebound isn't out of the question, and at his best, Leake can gobble up plenty of innings with a passable WHIP, but he continues to work with a low strikeout rate (16.2 percent for his career), which limits his value in most mixed formats.
Leake's skill set is pretty firmly established: he is a groundball control pitcher with modest strikeout rates and a bit of a homer issue. His ERA vacillates based on hit and home run suppression, which is how he was able to have his best (3.37) and worst (4.58) ERAs a year apart with virtually identical strikeout, walk, and groundball rates in those two seasons. The strikeout deficiency - even in this strikeout-happy era, he has never topped 7.0 K/9 - puts a firm cap on his fantasy potential as a back-end starter if you have rigid roster management rules. If you can curate his season to include only the pitcher-friendly ballparks, he becomes more valuable. His work in parks with an above-average home park factor for pitchers includes a 2.70 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 283 innings thanks in large part to a 0.73 HR/9. Be careful, even after he cashed in with an $80 million five-year deal with the Cardinals in free agency.
Projection systems typically suggest that Leake overperforms his component stats, usually because he's a groundball pitcher (53.4% of batted balls against Leake in 2014 were on the ground) with a good defense behind him. However, Leake genuinely improved in 2014, raising his strikeout percentage from 15.2% to 18.2%, while retaining low walk and HR rates. While he'll never be a great source of strikeouts, if he can maintain a semblance of his 2014 strikeouts, solid results should follow. As is the case with ace Johnny Cueto, Leake is eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
Despite multiple calls for manager Dusty Baker to pull Leake from the rotation, Baker persisted and kept Leake in there and was rewarded with a solid bounce back season, as Leake posted a 3.37 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while making 31 starts. However, there are some warning signs for those looking to invest for 2014. Leake is a pitch-to-contact hurler, cut out of the Bronson Arroyo mold. His strikeout rate remained perilously low (15.2%) and he struggled down the stretch with an extended workload, posting a 4.39 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over the last 60 days. Because he's well below league-average for a fantasy starting pitcher in strikeouts, Leake relies on the team context to provide value, and chances are the Reds will decline a little from the last two years, so he may not match the 14 wins he netted in 2013.
Leake has become a poor man's Bronson Arroyo on the mound, striking out just 5.8 K/9 last year while allowing 1.3 HR/9. By the time September rolled around, it was clear that Homer Bailey's spot in the rotation was secure for the playoffs and that Leake was the fifth starter and thus the odd man out in the playoffs. Johnny Cueto's ill-timed oblique injury pressed Leake into service and he was woefully inadequate against the Giants. The 2013 season presents a big challenge to Leake in saving his rotation spot, as prospects Anthony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino are knocking at the door. At least Leake can hit, though the value of that skill is diminished considerably if he's working out of the bullpen.
After an embarrassing shoplifting incident and a brief demotion in May, Leake once again outperformed expectations (and his component numbers) before getting shut down in mid-September. He's still not a dominant starter (6.33 K/9IP), but he has excellent control and ended up with modest improvements in his component numbers. He's unlikely to ever become an ace, but he could maintain a reasonable career as a third or fourth starter. When looking at his numbers, keep in mind that he has just two minor league appearances in his professional career.
Leake helped keep the Reds afloat early in the season when they were scuffling with Aaron Harang's slow start, but he declined sharply in the second half with a 6.91 ERA after the All-Star break. His drop-off can in part be attributed to fatigue, having never pitched as many innings as he did in his rookie season after bypassing the minors, and in part because he was overachieving to begin with - his xFIP ERA for April and May was nearly two runs higher than his actual ERA, and he faced only two above-average NL offenses in that stretch. Leake will have to earn his spot in the rotation in spring training, following the emergence of Travis Wood last season. He might very well begin 2011 in Triple-A Louisville.
The Reds drafted Leake with the eighth pick in the 2009 draft, with the expectation that he'll advance fairly rapidly. Leake sits between 88-92 mph with his fastball, but he has a complete four-pitch arsenal that also includes a curveball, slider and changeup. Further, he commands his pitches well and didn't show any hesitation to throw any of his pitches regardless of the count during a very successful collegiate career at Arizona State. His ceiling isn't as high as others in this draft class, but he'll ultimately profile as a No. 3 starter type. Look for him to debut in 2011.
More Fantasy News
Avoids loss thanks to offense
PSeattle Mariners
April 11, 2019
Leake allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four over five innings Thursday against the Royals. He didn't factor into the decision.
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Earns second win
PSeattle Mariners
April 6, 2019
Leake (2-0) allowed two runs on nine hits and no walks over 6.1 innings while striking out six to pick up the win over the White Sox on Saturday.
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Pitches around seven hits in win
PSeattle Mariners
March 30, 2019
Leake (1-0) struck out seven and allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings, capturing a win against the Red Sox on Saturday.
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Knocked around in exhibition
PSeattle Mariners
March 26, 2019
Leake allowed seven runs (four earned) on nine hits over 5.1 innings in an exhibition loss to the Padres on Monday. He struck out three.
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Some improvement in latest start
PSeattle Mariners
March 11, 2019
Leake allowed two earned runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings in a 9-9 Cactus League tie with the Angels on Sunday. He struck out two.
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