Michael Raymond Leake
Height: 5'11" Weight: 170
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 11/12/1987 in San Diego, California
Offseason home: Paradise Valley, Arizona
College: Arizona State University
Family: Wife Catherine, son Jackson, daughter Scotlyn
Acquired: In trade from the St. Louis Cardinals, with cash and international slot money, for Rayder Ascanio (08/30/2017)
MLB Debut: 04/11/2010
Free Agent after: 2020 season
The acquisition of Mike Leake last August was met with a resounding "meh." The right-hander isn't particularly well-known and doesn't inspire a lot of excitement, but he's durable, consistent, and keeps you in the game. Over an eight-year big-league career, Leake has averaged 181 innings pitched with outstanding control (career avg. of 43 walks/123 strikeouts), which he displayed in spades after arriving in Seattle—in five starts post-trade (a deal, by the way, that he had to approve due to a no-trade clause in his contract), Leake struck out 27 and walked two. That's right, two. He seems to be benefiting from his relocation to the west coast, where he feels the culture is more laid-back and to his liking, and a conscious decision to relax his general attitude—in 2016 he found himself on the DL with stress-induced shingles. "I needed to chill out," Leake said of the ordeal. "I was killing myself in a way," pitching with anger and making himself anxious. “I needed to be able to take a deep breath, relax and realize, in a way, how unimportant baseball is” in the grand scheme of things.
Leake has had one 200-inning season thus far (2014), a threshold he intends to reach again this year. He wants to go at least seven innings every time out, and, according to manager Scott Servais, "doesn’t like when you pull him out of a game." Thanks to his command of the strike zone and tendency to induce grounders, seven innings per start seems a very reachable goal, particularly given the infielders playing behind him.
Leake was just the 21st player in the draft era (since 1965) to make his professional debut in the Major Leagues, skipping the minors entirely (though he did play six games in the Arizona Fall League right after being drafted). He was sent down in his sophomore year with the Reds, but only made two Triple-A appearances before being recalled and has never set foot in the minors since.