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ALN: Wade the White - Winner of the Offseason

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This is not analysis. These are just facts.

Houston Astros  v Seattle Mariners Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Yesterday Wade LeBlanc pitched through illness significant enough to prohibit him from eating for the last few days. He was, as he has been, slippery as an eel in the Everglades. Filling in for Erasmo Ramirez, the Lich of Louisiana has been a revelation once again for the Mariners. Wade’s five innings were enough to secure his first statistical win of the season, but Seattle is 5-1 in games he’s started, all of which have come in May. His excellence, along with the rest of the Mariners’ lefty starters, have carried the team.

But Wade’s place in this young season is only partially preposterous for what he’s done. It’s also remarkable for who he’s outperformed. While his late signing made him peculiar, he is technically the only starting pitcher the Mariners signed to a Major League contract this offseason. It’s difficult to imagine LeBlanc’s success carrying over an entire season, but where he ranks is staggering.

Wade and the Free Agents

Name Team W L SV G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
Name Team W L SV G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB SwStr% ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9-WAR
Wade LeBlanc Mariners 1 0 0 6 6 31.1 6.61 1.72 0.86 0.242 93.3% 34.4% 7.5% 8.3% 1.72 3.47 4.29 0.6 1.5
Jake Arrieta Phillies 5 2 0 10 10 58.1 6.17 2.93 0.31 0.267 73.2% 56.7% 4.3% 6.6% 2.16 3.17 4 1.4 1.5
Trevor Cahill Athletics 1 2 0 7 7 44 8.39 1.84 0.82 0.232 81.4% 60.2% 16.0% 13.3% 2.25 3.12 2.86 1 1.6
Jeremy Hellickson Nationals 2 0 0 8 8 43 7.12 1.26 0.84 0.259 85.2% 47.0% 12.1% 9.6% 2.3 3.31 3.34 0.9 1.6
Miles Mikolas Cardinals 6 0 0 10 10 66.1 6.92 0.95 0.81 0.267 80.2% 50.0% 11.5% 9.0% 2.58 3.17 3.26 1.5 2.1
Jhoulys Chacin Brewers 3 1 0 12 12 63.1 6.39 3.98 0.71 0.27 72.5% 40.4% 7.0% 8.6% 3.69 4.2 4.98 0.8 0.9
Bartolo Colon Rangers 2 2 0 9 9 58.1 5.25 1.08 2.01 0.206 82.9% 47.9% 21.7% 6.0% 3.7 5.32 4.08 0.1 1.2
CC Sabathia Yankees 2 1 0 10 10 50.2 6.75 2.49 1.42 0.266 67.5% 44.6% 13.3% 9.6% 3.73 4.62 4.48 0.5 0.3
Francisco Liriano Tigers 3 2 0 10 10 57.2 7.02 4.53 1.25 0.22 77.3% 45.2% 13.3% 10.7% 3.9 4.98 4.86 0.2 1.1
Doug Fister Rangers 1 5 0 10 10 55 6.05 2.78 1.47 0.305 73.6% 51.1% 19.6% 5.5% 4.09 5.16 4.38 0.1 0.3
Tyler Chatwood Cubs 3 4 0 10 10 48.1 8.19 8.38 0.37 0.295 76.0% 52.4% 5.4% 7.1% 4.1 4.76 5.46 0.2 0.6
Mike Fiers Tigers 4 3 0 10 10 54.2 5.93 1.81 1.81 0.291 75.5% 39.0% 13.8% 8.4% 4.45 5.13 4.88 0.2 0.4
Yu Darvish Cubs 1 3 0 8 8 40 11.03 4.73 1.58 0.293 72.3% 37.6% 17.5% 11.1% 4.95 4.82 4.16 0.2 0
Andrew Cashner Orioles 2 6 0 11 11 60.1 8.06 4.62 1.64 0.333 75.1% 37.8% 15.5% 7.4% 5.07 5.29 4.83 0.2 0.1
Jaime Garcia Blue Jays 2 3 0 9 9 45.2 8.47 4.14 1.77 0.305 69.0% 40.3% 15.0% 9.2% 5.52 5.38 4.94 0 -0.2
Lance Lynn Twins 3 4 0 10 10 50 9 5.94 1.08 0.364 70.6% 51.0% 15.4% 9.5% 5.94 4.72 4.42 0.3 -0.1
Alex Cobb Orioles 1 7 0 9 9 46.1 4.86 2.33 1.75 0.371 62.2% 51.7% 17.6% 5.4% 6.8 5.41 4.66 0 -0.9
Jason Vargas Mets 2 3 0 6 6 25.1 8.17 3.91 2.13 0.366 60.6% 37.2% 18.2% 10.7% 8.53 5.81 4.83 -0.2 -0.9
Miguel Gonzalez White Sox 0 3 0 3 3 12.1 3.65 4.38 2.92 0.392 49.2% 38.2% 22.2% 7.4% 12.41 7.99 6.13 -0.3 -0.8
Fangraphs

It’s implausible to suggest that LeBlanc could, should, or would have been what he’s been. It is simply enough, for now, to acknowledge that he has, and that because he has, the Mariners are a far likelier team to break the playoff draught that’s haunted them. While I’m not going to heap much praise on the team for finding a cheaper option instead of paying for a likelier pathway to success, the cost for many of the available upgrades was more than financial. Unlike Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, or relievers Greg Holland and Wade Davis, LeBlanc did not cost the Mariners a 2nd or 3rd round pick in Monday’s upcoming amateur draft.

There’s likely only so much magic in Wade’s wily shoulder. 85-87 mph fastballs, no matter how well located, are increasingly rare for a reason - hitters are better than they ever have been at punishing mistakes and mediocre velocity. But Wade has danced on the ring’s edges all year, and whether it ends his next start or continues all the way through October, we all can be thankful for Wade LeBlanc.