Why LeBlanc was optioned
JUPITER, Fla. — You can file this one in the “Life isn’t always fair” category.
The Marlins decision on Friday to option Wade LeBlanc to Triple-A New Orleans had nothing to do with performance. Because, if this decision was performance driven, there would be no question the left-hander is deserving of a roster spot.
But because he had an option, the Marlins exercised it to allow LeBlanc to pitch where he is best suited, and that’s in the rotation.
So LeBlanc heads to Minor League camp the day before the Marlins pack up and head down to Miami to get ready for Wednesday’s opener against the Cardinals at Marlins Park.
LeBlanc did his part, making for a tough decision. His numbers showed it. In 20 2/3 innings, the lefty posted a 1.31 ERA with 19 strikeouts and two walks. He showed great command of four pitches, able to change speeds on all of them. And his changeup is a plus pitch for him.
In many ways, LeBlanc’s style is similar to Mark Buehrle’s. Both are not overpowering, but they can change speeds and compete.
LeBlanc just will be competing at Triple-A, and he is essentially the Marlins’ “sixth starter.” So in case anything happened to someone in Miami’s rotation, LeBlanc is expected to get the first call.
Considering the health concerns of Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez, it probably was a wise move to have someone with big league experience in the wings to step in, if necessary. Like LeBlanc, J.D. Martin, who was recently sent down, is capable coming up to provide help. Unlike last year, the Marlins have some solid starting depth.
The Marlins decided to keep LeBlanc as a starter instead of a long reliever.
Friday’s move pretty much opens the door for non-roster invitee Chad Gaudin to make the club as a long reliever.
The Marlins will be able to create 40-man roster space for Gaudin when they officially transfer reliever Jose Ceda, who will have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, to the 60-day disabled list.
– Joe Frisaro