Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Wade LeBlanc

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 19: Starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc #35, right, of the Seattle Mariners meets with catcher Chris Iannetta #33 of the Seattle Mariners and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 19, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 19: Starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc #35, right, of the Seattle Mariners meets with catcher Chris Iannetta #33 of the Seattle Mariners and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 19, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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Wednesday, May 9, the Toronto Blue Jays will play the middle game of a three game series against the Seattle Mariners. The Blue Jays are led by Jaime Garcia while the Mariners will counter with Wade LeBlanc.

Wade LeBlanc has had a good start to the season for the Mariners. In one start and six appearances out of the bullpen, the southpaw has no record with a 3.57 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. Over his last 10 2/3 innings pitched, Leblanc has been red-hot, pitching to a 1.69 ERA with 11 punch-outs.

The veteran was thrust into a starter’s role this year after Erasmo Ramírez hit the disabled list on May 1 with a shoulder issue. In his first start since August 2016, Leblanc pitched four scoreless innings, allowing one walk and three hits. LeBlanc was pulled from the game at 70 pitches in his last start, likely revealing the current pitching program the Mariners have set for him. Based on this, the Blue Jays should expect Leblanc to throw about 85-90 pitches.

LeBlanc will throw a little bit of everything at the Blue Jays hitters. The veteran features a fastball, cutter, sinker, change-up, slider, and curveball. LeBlanc throws his sinker the most often out of his wide array of pitches. The sinker is featured 37.7% of the time and averages a velocity around 86-87 mph. Curiously, the sinker produced ground balls at a rate of just 20% in his last start.

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LeBlanc’s changeup is his second most used pitch. The change is used 27.7% of the time and it averages a slow velocity of 76.5 mph. The changeup is used to produce flyballs, primarily. In his relief appearances in April, the change produced fly balls at a rate of 42.86%.

The Cutter is used 22.3% of the time and averages a slow velocity of 82.8 mph. However, he makes up for the slow velocity with good cutting action on the pitch.

The rest of the wide array of pitches offered by the veteran are filled out by a slow four-seam fastball (86.68 mph) 8.6% of the time, a slider 1% of the time, and a curveball 1.4% of the time.

A veteran who has bounced around the league, LeBlanc does nothing exceptionally, but understands how to pitch efficiently—pitching to contact and filling the zone with strikes.

The Blue Jays should come into at-bats ready to hit. A veteran without much remarkable stuff, LeBlanc relies on getting the first strike—a feat he’s been able to achieve 74.7% of the time this year. Also important for the Blue Jays, the lefty has allowed a walk rate of just 5%. LeBlanc’s low walk rate demonstrates his ability to pound the zone to get outs.

The only Blue Jays with significant experience against LeBlanc are Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, and Kendrys Morales. Both Donaldson and Martin love to hit against LeBlanc; Both hitters have four hits in nine at bats. Donaldson holds an astronomical 1.556 OPS against the lefty, while Martin holds a still incredible 1.101 OPS. Amazingly, half of Donaldson’s hits against LeBlanc have been home runs. Morales has had his struggles against LeBlanc, with just one hit in five total at bats. Morales struggling against LeBlanc are contrary to how the match-up looks on paper. A lefty pitcher that predominantly throws slow fastballs would theoretically be a dream for Morales.

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The Blue Jays will look to get their first hit of the series on Wednesday night. Without much eye-popping stuff, the Blue Jays will hopefully run LeBlanc off the mound before his regimented low pitch limit.