Baltimore Orioles: Six Post-Winter Meetings Free Agent Pitching Targets
By Nick Stevens
This option does not make sense, even for the Baltimore Orioles.
I have a feeling that Wade LeBlanc’s name was mentioned on both Joe Trezza’s and Dan Connolly’s list for one reason, his connection to Mike Elias. LeBanc’s time in Houston was brief, he’s coming off one of the worst statistical performances of his career and he’s 35 years old. It’s very difficult to find any positives with this option, other than the cost of a minor league contract.
LeBlanc made 26 appearances last season (eight starts), going 6-7 with a career-high 5.71 ERA, 5.49 FIP, and a 2.08 HR/9 IP rate. His strikeout rate (17%) was the lowest he had seen since 2013 and opponents hit .290 against him, around a 45 point jump over opponent’s batting average against LeBlanc from 2016-2018.
His fastball velocity (86 mph) is one of the slowest you will find in the major leagues and his fastball spin rate ranks in the 3rd percentile. Very little about his profile fits into what the Orioles have been looking for, even in these low-cost stopgap options.
For what it’s worth, Steamer projections show a continued drop in strikeouts, a big increase in the number of walks allowed, and a steady helping of home runs against LeBlanc in 2020. Even if he shows some resemblance to the 2018 version of Wade LeBlanc who was worth a career-high 1.6 Wins Above Replacement, who is calling for a near 36-year-old, league-average pitcher who throws 86 mph at the trade deadline?
Even for the 2020 Baltimore Orioles, LeBlanc should be a pass.