On Wade LeBlanc’s Move to the RotationBy
The Marlins made an adjustment to their starting rotation on Monday, albeit not the one that has been speculated about over the last several days.
Instead of dealing ace Josh Johnson, who it appears the Marlins are intent on keeping according to most reports, Ozzie Guillen announced that Carlos Zambrano would be heading to the bullpen while southpaw Wade LeBlanc will take his spot.
It’s hard to argue with taking Zambrano out of the rotation, as he has put up some atrocious numbers, especially over the last couple months. Big Z has posted the fourth-worst FIP of any NL starter in the month of July and his numbers from June weren’t much better. The most incredible stat of all is that since June, Zambrano has posted a BB/9 rate of over seven.
After all that I’ve just said, it’s clear that LeBlanc at the very least can’t be a downgrade to what Zambrano was currently giving them. He’s pitched well out of the bullpen this season for the Fish with a 1.15 ERA in 11 games, and now he’ll get a chance to show the club what he can do in his first regular starting role since his time with San Diego.
Though there isn’t much to go off of from his time in the big leagues this season, it’s clear that LeBlanc has made quite a bit of improvement across the board from the small sample size that’s available. He had a phenomenal spring training, though he ended up being sent down and spending the beginning of the season in AAA New Orleans in order to still have the opportunity to start, where he posted an 8.30 K/9 ratio and cut his walks in half from last season. His stuff is that of a typical finesse-lefty, with a fastball that runs in the upper-80′s and a good use of changing speeds to keep hitters off balance (not unlike that of current Marlins’ lefty Mark Buehrle).
Despite the fact that he’s posted an abnormally-low GB% during his time in the bullpen (a slight cause for concern), LeBlanc will at least have the opportunity to show his worth to Ozzie Guillen and Co. to plug the literal and figurative hole left by Carlos Zambrano. With Nate Eovaldi in the fold and Jacob Turner likely on the way soon, now figures to be as good a time as any to begin evaluating the organization’s pitching depth with an eye towards next season.