Phillies 2018 season preview: Pitcher Mark Leiter Jr

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Mark Leiter
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Mark Leiter /
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Mark Leiter, Jr. was a surprising but solid contributor to the Phillies last year. Can he do the same thing again in 2018?

Many questions must be answered with regards to the Phillies pitching staff this spring. One player in the mix, both as a potential starter and reliever is 26-year old Mark Leiter Jr. While there were several ups and downs during his rookie campaign, Leiter could find himself an integral part of the staff this season.

Leiter was solid in his first 10 Major League appearances in relief, posting a 3.38 ERA.  The inconsistencies started to show afterwards as Leiter had an outing allowing four earned runs in 2/3 of an inning and four runs on nine hits in 5 innings in a start three appearances later. On the flip side, he allowed only four hits without a run in two appearances in between.

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The trend continued through the summer last season for Leiter, pitching to a very solid 3.41 ERA in August before ballooning to a 7.71 ERA in September. All told, he finished with a 3-6 record and 4.96 ERA. The question is, can Leiter show more consistency needed to be a significant contributor throughout this season?

Breaking things down further, Leiter Jr stuck out 84 in 90 2/3 innings while allowing 90 hits and 31 walks.

A 1.333 WHIP isn’t excellent, but is serviceable. The biggest problem was his propensity to give up the long ball, allowing nearly two per nine innings.

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So how does this season play out for Leiter in 2018? While a small Major League sample size  makes predicting difficult, I believe that Leiter has a good chance of landing a roster spot because he fill in anywhere on the staff. Perhaps he’s a long man, spot starter or does well enough in the spring to land a spot in the back end of the rotation.

My best bet is that with a season under his belt, Leiter will start being more consistent.  This should mean he remains on the roster most, if not all of the season. Improved numbers across the board, particularly in home runs per nine innings, is crucial to Leiter’s long term success.

Next: 2018 Phillies Season Preview: J.P Crawford

Look for Leiter to secure a spot as a long man in the bullpen with an occasional start or move into the rotation should injuries occur.

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