Phillies pitcher Mark Leiter could move into starting rotation

His strikeout rate has spiked in his second major-league stint, and he is pitching like he belongs as a replacement for

Mark Leiter Jr. returned from the minor leagues in late June as a different pitcher than the one who was sent to triple A just four weeks earlier.

The righthander came back relaxed, knowing what to expect from the month he spent in the majors following his debut in April. The results have shown as Leiter’s strikeout rate has spiked in his second major-league stint. He is pitching like he belongs and could get a chance to move into the starting rotation on Tuesday when the Phillies need a replacement for Vince Velasquez.

“I think it would be a great opportunity, and I’d attack it the way I always attack pitching and do my best,” Leiter said. “But that’s really out of my control. So I’m just focused on my task right now, and that’s to get ready to pitch again out of the bullpen and get myself ready to go as soon as possible.”

Velasquez will miss at least two starts during his time on the disabled list. His return is unclear. Manager Pete Mackanin said on Friday that it was hard to say whether Velasquez will pitch again this season. Velasquez said he is confident he’ll be back. The Phillies will likely fill his place with either Leiter or Ben Lively, whose rotation turn at triple A falls on the same day.

In his last two relief appearances, Leiter has struck out 16 batters without a walk while allowing just one run in 9 1/3 innings. He is averaging 10.87 strikeouts per nine innings since returning to the majors, a 45 percent increase over the mark he had before being sent to triple A. The strikeouts come as no surprise to Leiter. He twice led the entire organization in strikeouts when he was a minor leaguer.

Leiter said the source of his success is simple: he’s executing his pitches with consistency. Leiter is relying more on his fastball, throwing more strikes, and has drastically reduced his walk rate. It would be interesting to see him test this success in the starting rotation.

“Anytime you’re pitching good you have to keep rolling with it, but you have to understand that this is a humbling game, and it will come and get you as soon as your start feeling too good about yourself,” Leiter said. “Bad games are around the corner, too. You have to try and limit those as much as you can and try to keep to going and ride the momentum that you have.”

Extra bases

Zach Eflin will start Sunday’s series finale against Mets righthander Chris Flexen. Eflin could push himself into consideration for a spot in next season’s rotation if he finishes the season strong. … Odubel Herrera is tied for second in Wins Above Replacement for a Phillies player through their first three major-league seasons. Herrera’s mark of 10.9 is tied with Scott Rolen and trails only Mike Schmidt’s 11.7.

Read more by Matt Breen

More Coverage

  • POLL: Is it time for the Phillies to call up J.P. Crawford?
  • Get the latest Phillies news with the FREE Philly Sports Now app for iPhone and Android
  • Phillies 2017 statistics
  • SHOP SALE: Phillies fan gear

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines Commenting policy | Comments FAQ

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments

Share on
Article Phillies pitcher Mark Leiter could move into starting rotation compiled by www.philly.com

Similar