Wade LeBlanc Continues to Quietly Pitch Well
Quietly, Wade LeBlanc is having a strong season
Anyone who has watched the Pittsburgh Pirates this season will tell you that the bullpen has been a major issue. With even decent, let alone good, seasons from Daniel Hudson and Tony Watson the Pirates would probably have 3 or 4 more wins right now. Antonio Bastardo and Johnny Barbato, before the latter was demoted to Triple-A, have been disasters out of the bullpen as well.
However, there have been a few bright spots in the Pirate bullpen this season. One of these bright spots has been left-handed reliever Wade LeBlanc. Quietly, LeBlanc is putting together a strong season for the Bucs.
The Pirates claimed Wade LeBlanc off waivers from the Seattle Mariners last September. After a strong month in a Pirate uniform, Neal Huntington and company rewarded LeBlanc with a new 2-year contract this offseason. So far this season, LeBlanc has rewarded the Pirates for having faith in him.
This season Wade LeBlanc has pitched 46 1/3 innings in 32 games. He is averaging 6.99 K/9, 1.75 BB/9, and 0.97 HR/9. He is also generating groundballs at a 49.6 percent rate, which is a new career high for the southpaw.
Wade LeBlanc has also done a fine job of inducing soft contact this season. His 20.7 percent soft contact rate in 2017 is the second best of his Major League career. All of this has added up to LeBlanc currently owning a 3.58 FIP and a 3.77 xFIP.
Adding to LeBlanc’s value this season is that he has been able to pitch in multiple situations. He has been a go to man for Clint Hurdle when he has been in need of multiple innings out of his bullpen. However, he has also been effective pitching in 1 innings outings.
He has also been extremely effective against right-handed hitters, which is not always the case with left-handed relievers. Right-handed hitters own a .314 slugging percentage, .250 wOBA, and a 20.2 percent strikeout rate against LeBlanc this season. This has made 2017 the best season of his career against right-handed hitters.
While the Pirate bullpen has had its fair share of struggles in 2017, Wade LeBlanc has been a bright spot. The left-handed reliever has been effective in multiple different roles and has proven to be a real asset for Clint Hurdle and the Pirates.