It's been a hot topic all season: when are the Reds going to shut Mike Leake down? Given the fact that this is just his first professional baseball season, the organization was not going to let it's number one draft pick from June of 2009 pitch 200 innings. No reputable team would allow that.
Still, his meteoric rise this spring training and his incredibly impressive start to the regular season had everyone salivating at how good he already was. But the question was always: what are they going to do to keep his innings down and still allow him to pitch in September and possibly October?
Honestly, I don't think we need to worry about that right now. The kid has hit the proverbial wall. It's time to either shut him down or ship him to Louisville. I know that's very harsh considering all he's done for the team thus far. But, the Reds are in a race and they cannot afford a 7-run outing everytime. Granted he didn't give up six runs against the Pirates, but they hit him around pretty hard and honestly everyone has hit him pretty hard of late. Just my opinion, but I think it's time to make a move.
Am I saying this because the Reds lost last night and I'm in a panic? Nope. I said this after the Pirates game last week. Again, I know he wasn't charged with any runs, but if the Pirates are hitting you hard - and they did - and you follow it up with a clunker against the Cards, it may be time to send him, or shut him, down.
I think the Reds were stuck between a rock and a hard place. They needed to skip him a few times to keep his innings down. I also think this might be a cause of his ineffectiveness. He may have gotten rusty. The ball doesn't have the same movement it did earlier in the year. I don't see the same sink on his ball like I did in April and May.
With Homer Bailey potentially being ready in a week or so, and ultimately Aaron Harang will be ready as well, the team has options for Leake's spot. I think the time is very near to seeing Leake removed from the rotation. This is in no way me being down on the kid. In fact, I already have him locked into next year's rotation from day one, so don't think I'm giving up on him and calling him a fluke. No way. He'll be fine. He just has hit a mental and physical wall. The division race is catching up to him, as are the road trips and everything else associated with being a professional ball player. It happens. And in my opinion it happens to be the time to give him a break.