Mariners add lefty Wade LeBlanc for bullpen help, perhaps more

Mar 24, 2018, 12:25 PM | Updated: Mar 25, 2018, 4:10 pm
The Mariners may turn to Wade LeBlanc for starts in necessary in 2018. (AP)...
The Mariners may turn to Wade LeBlanc for starts in necessary in 2018. (AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick was first to report and a baseball source has since confirmed that the Mariners are bringing back Wade LeBlanc. The lefty who was in camp with the Yankees until he was released Friday comes back on a major league deal, a move made official Sunday.

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First acquired by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto midseason 2016, LeBlanc jumped straight into the rotation. He met the team when they arrived home from a road trip and taking the ball that night, throwing six innings of three-hit, no-run ball against the Cardinals. He went 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA before being traded to the Pirates in September that year. With the Pirates he made 58 appearances – all in relief – in the 2016-2017 seasons, putting up a 3.94 ERA while walking 19 and striking out 64.

While the Mariners have a vacancy in the bullpen after the loss of David Phelps, they are not looking at LeBlanc exclusively as a reliever; he could make some starts. It remains to be seen whether or not this includes the April 11 start that would be the first time Seattle would use its No. 5 starter spot, a game that Ariel Miranda and Rob Whalen have been battling for. LeBlanc threw in seven games this spring with the Yankees but did not make any starts.

While LeBlanc puts a third lefty in the pen, he had reverse splits last year with lefties hitting .295/.333/.500 off him and righties .212/.270/.389 in 2017. Regardless of how he is used, LeBlanc brings versatility and familiarly to the bullpen just days before the season begins.

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