Reds may shut down struggling rookie Mike Leake

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Last week the Reds demoted Mike Leake to the bullpen in an effort to keep the rookie’s innings count in check, but after back-to-back ugly relief outings they’re now thinking about shutting him down altogether.
Leake gave up six runs while recording one out last night and afterward manager Dusty Baker said:

We’re addressing that now. He’s getting hurt mostly on his slider and sinker. His sinker is not sinking as good. And his slider isn’t rolling. It’s not as sharp.

Since beginning his career 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA through 11 starts Leake has allowed 55 runs in 66 innings, during which time opponents have hit .336 with a .560 slugging percentage. To put that in some context, teammate and MVP candidate Joey Votto is hitting .323 with a .589 slugging percentage. So for the past 10 weeks Leake has essentially turned every hitter he’s faced into Votto.
In addition to moving Leake to the bullpen and now possibly shutting him down, the Reds are also planning to bring five-time Opening Day starter Aaron Harang back from the disabled list as a reliever and have reportedly discussed moving the similarly struggling Edinson Volquez to the bullpen as well. Cincinnati has a ton of starting pitching depth, but not all of it is looking particularly good heading into the stretch run.
Even if they shut down Leake the pitcher they may want to keep Leake the hitter around, because he’s batting .348 with a .423 on-base percentage in 58 plate appearances.

Rangers claim Tommy Joseph off waivers from Philly

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The Texas Rangers claimed first baseman Tommy Joseph off waivers from the Phillies. Philadelphia designated Joseph for assignment last week to make room for Jake Arrieta.

Joseph hit 22 home runs and knocked in 69 in 142 games last season, but he did not get on base — or hit for power, for that matter — at the clip a first baseman needs to in order to be an asset, posting a line of .240/.289/.432. He had a better 2016, so it’s not that he’s without promise, but the Phillies have obviously decided to head in a different direction.

Joseph doesn’t really have a spot in Texas either with Joey Gallo handling first base and Shin-Soo Choo at DH, but he has an option left and could serve as depth for the Rangers, plying his trade at Round Rock until he’s needed.