Wade Matthew LeBlanc
Height: 6'3" Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: Left / Left
Born: 08/07/1984 in Lake Charles, Louisiana
College: University of Alabama
Acquired: Signed as a free agent (03/23/2018)
MLB Debut: 09/03/2008
Free Agent after: 2022 season
LeBlanc only got three starts this season before straining his oblique and hitting the injured list, so it's a little difficult to evaluate him. But in those three starts he seemed to continue last year's success fairly well, though batters were hitting him at a little higher rate and the ERA is a little skewed from a couple of early exits due to pitch count issues. Speaking of, manager Scott Servais generally likes to pull Frenchy at 90 pitches or so; whether this is a genuinely researched move based on his historical endurance rates or just something Servais pulled out of a hat is unclear, but especially coming off an injury expect him to have 90-95 as his limit. Last year he maxed out at 98 twice while pitching shutouts; he was pulled after seven innings against the Red Sox and after 72⁄3 vs. Oakland.
The relatively soft-tossing lefty returns against the Twins the day after Minnesota faced Marco Gonzales, who also has a lefty finesse style; hopefully that won't factor in as an advantage for the visitors.
For most of his career, Wade “Frenchy” LeBlanc has been like the sweater you pack for vacation but never take out of the suitcase; he’s the extra bag of ice you buy for the party that’s allowed to melt in the sink. At least that’s how MLB teams seemed to view him. They kept thinking he was necessary before deciding he wasn’t. In ten years, he’s been designated for assignment seven times, granted free agency four times, and traded three times—twice for a player to be named later. He’s worn ten numbers on seven different teams, and that doesn’t include the Toronto Blue Jays, who signed him but never brought him up, nor the Seibu Lions, for whom he pitched all of 2015.
2014 was a classic LeBlanc season. He signed with Jerry Dipoto’s LA Angels and got into one game before being designated for assignment. Claimed off waivers by the Yankees, they used him for one inning before designating him for assignment. He chose free agency instead and immediately signed with (wait for it) Dipoto’s Angels, where he got into one game before (wait for it) being designated for assignment.
No wonder he fled to Japan in 2015.
Last season began like the others. The Yankees signed him in January and released him in March. This allowed Dipoto to grab him for a record fourth time. Doing mop-up work in April, he got a chance at the starting rotation when Erasmo Ramírez went on the DL, and for six games in May he was suddenly Clayton Kershaw: 1.72 ERA, 23-6 K/BB, and the M’s went 5-1 in his starts. The rest of his season was more typical if still valuable (4.15 ERA in 21 starts), and in July he was signed to a contract extension. After the Paxton deal, he’s now our, what, No. 3 starter? What’s French for perseverance?