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
It might not seem like it, but Leake is one of the more consistent pitchers in the league—you can be pretty sure that in at least three out of four starts, maybe four out of five, he'll keep you in the game and get into the middle-late innings, and in that fourth or fifth start he'll absolutely stink up the park like rotting fish guts wrapped in sewage. It's a curious tendency. Last year, for example, Leake surrendered a total of 90 earned runs in 31 starts, but 20 of those runs came in just three games. Another two short starts accounted for 10 earned runs. Take those five games away, and his respectable 10-10, 4.36 line becomes a solid 10-7, 3.23. It's just that once a month or so he doesn't really feel like himself, something much of the populace might relate to. One thing that remains constant, though, is the walks—there aren't many. Among pitchers with 162+ innings pitched, Leake was second to teammate Marco Gonzales in fewest walks allowed (34), which was not an aberration. The most he's ever issued in a season was 50, in 2014, when he threw a career-high 2141⁄3 innings.
That consistency and control is but one reason Leake has become something of a mentor to some of the younger Mariner pitchers. Gonzales in particular credits Leake, along with Wade LeBlanc, for helping him in his breakout 2018 season, noting that confidence in his whole repertoire of pitches came in part from "being able to watch Mike Leake every week." During the offseason roster churn, it was thought that Leake might be among the Mariners to be traded, due to his relatively large salary (there were even rumors of a tentative deal being struck with San Diego in November). But he's still here—and with a full no-trade clause in his contract, he'd have to approve anything that would change that—and it would be wise for the M's to hang on to him, as much for his leadership as the 180-200 innings he can be counted on for.
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.