GOODYEAR, Ariz. – As Aroldis Chapman transitions from Reds closer to the rotation, much speculation has centered on what would become of last year's fifth starter, Mike Leake.
In many ways, this is nothing new from Spring Training 2012. Chapman was to be a starter until injuries to the bullpen forced a change of role.
"I've already talked to [Leake]. We weren't sure until up to the end [of camp] last year," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Thursday. "We've got six starters. He's still in my plans."
Leake's third season was his most inconsistent as he went 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA in a career-high 30 starts and 179 innings. The 25-year-old started the season 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA over his first six starts.
Last week, Leake avoided arbitration and signed a one-year, $3.06 million contract.
"The toughest years in the big leagues are the third, fourth and fifth years, when everybody knows you," Baker said. "They know you're not getting your breaking ball over. They know you follow your changeup with a fastball. Now it's up to you to readjust. There is no room for a marginal or bad year. People just want to take you off to the side. Every pitcher I know has had a bad year or two."
One of those pitchers Baker mentioned was future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
"He's a Maddux type," Baker said of Leake. "I made a call to Greg and Greg talked to him about some things."