After the frenzy that was the August 31st waiver trade deadline, the Blue Jays made a minor move, shoring up their pitching depth.
According to an official team release, the Blue Jays have claimed right-handed pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies. Leiter Jr., 27, was designated for assignment by the Phillies earlier this week when the team acquired Jose Bautista from the New York Mets.
The nephew of former Blue Jay Al Leiter, Mark was drafted by the Phillies in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft. After parts of four seasons in the Phillies minor league system, the native of Fort Lauderdale was promoted to the bigs in 2017, where he pitched to a 4.96 ERA in 90.2 innings, striking out 84 and walking 31.
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A hybrid starter/reliever in his first season (11 starts and five games finished), Leiter got off to a rough start in 2018, where, despite pitching to a healthy 2.84 ERA in his first 6.1 frames, he floundered remarkably. At the time of being designated, he had posted a 5.40 ERA with a WHIP of 1.800 in 16.2 total innings.
Additionally, the New Jersey Institute of Technology product has logged 33.1 innings split between Triple-A and High-A this season, pitching decently well at the higher of the two MiLB levels.
In Leiter Jr., the Blue Jays have likely acquired a depth arm, who will both pitch for them in September and head to the upper minors when next season rolls around. With several years of team control, it’s possible (albeit improbable) that Leiter can contribute to the major league squad at some point.
Regardless, depth pitching is hard to criticize, especially when it comes from the hands of a playoff contender. With September call-ups here, there’s sure to be a fair bit of roster shuffling as the first week of the month plays out. While it’s no “meaningful” baseball, it’ll still give the team a chance to see what they have in some younger, more inexperienced assets.