Reds officially shut down rookie Mike Leake for the season

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Mike Leake hasn’t pitched since August 24 because of a fatigued shoulder and today the Reds officially shut down the 22-year-old rookie, ruling him out for the playoffs.
Here’s what manager Dusty Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

He’s going to travel with the team, but there’s not enough time for him to get ready. He hasn’t been on the mound, and some of the guys that have been on the mound are sharper and more ready than he is right now. Like I told him last night, without him we wouldn’t be here now. Take away his eight victories and other fine games that we won, he’s a big part of this team.

Leake got off to a great start after skipping the minors to join the Opening Day rotation, going 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 73 innings through early June, but after that he coughed up 55 runs in 65 innings. He finishes with a 4.23 ERA and 91/49 K/BB ratio in 138 innings overall, and also went 16-for-48 (.333) at the plate.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.