Suddenly flush with capable rotation options, the Reds have decided to move Mike Leake to the bullpen in order to keep the 22-year-old rookie’s innings count in check.
Leake went 7-1 with a 3.45 ERA through his first 18 starts after the 2009 first-round pick skipped the minors completely to crack the Opening Day rotation, but he’s 1-3 while allowing 21 runs in 21 innings over his last four outings.
Dusty Baker indicated that the move is a temporary one, but declined to provide any sort of timetable for Leake’s return to the rotation:
This way we can see where we are. It doesn’t take him long to get loose. We can monitor his innings. It shouldn’t be a horrible transition. It depends. It depends on how far we go into September and hopefully into October.
Baker is known for being very tough on young pitchers, so it’s good to see him buying into the idea of easing Leake’s workload down the stretch. Even with Leake now a reliever the Reds still have a rotation that includes Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey, and Johnny Cueto, and they’re expected to get Aaron Harang back from the disabled list soon as well.