Cincinnati skipped Mike Leake’s turn in the rotation yesterday in order to keep Johnny Cueto on regular rest and Mark Sheldon of MLB.com writes that Leake “realizes he is on the bubble” for the postseason roster.
Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, and Homer Bailey are all ahead of him on the rotation depth chart and playoff teams rarely if ever require a fifth starter, so Leake’s status may come down to whether the Reds have any interest in using him as a reliever.
His five career relief appearances have been brutally bad, with 17.36 ERA and 14 hits allowed in 4.2 innings, but Leake noted that he could also be useful as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter and told Sheldon: “I know I haven’t deserved a spot to be one of the four, but I feel I can still help.”
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.