SHANNON DRAYER

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)

(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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Mariners add lefty Wade LeBlanc for bullpen help, perhaps more