After the San Francisco Giants acquired Mike Leake from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, Kevin Burkhardt tweeted that it was a “monster move.”
Then Burkhardt got called out. Repeatedly.
“It’s funny,” the Fox Sports MLB analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I tweeted that out and people were like ‘Monster move? He’s an average pitcher.’ And I said, ‘Well, you have to look closer.’ And the reason why I say it’s a monster move is because the Giants are playing as well as anybody this month. They and the Yankees are the hottest teams in July. Here they are. They’re in position to take that division and take down the Dodgers, who I think are ripe for the taking.”
The Giants (56-45), who have won 13 of 15, are just a half game back of the Dodgers (57-45) in the NL West entering play July 31. Despite its hot play, however, San Francisco had a few holes.
It filled one of them Thursday.
“This is not your grandfather’s Giants where their pitching staff is all-world and they have no offense,” Burkhardt said. “If you look at it, they arguably have the best group of position players in the league. They really do. But no one seems to know it because you’re so used to the Giants’ narrative. But when you look at it, what they have is this: a tremendous batch of position players, absolutely outstanding defense – especially in the infield where it’s second to none – and their bullpen is still very good to excellent. But the problem is they’re using them a lot more.
“We know (Madison) Bumgarner is who he is,” Burkhardt continued. “He had some starts where he went a little bit short earlier in the month, and I think honestly part of that was by design. The last couple starts he’s been good. Not worried about him. Chris Heston has been a nice surprise. Outside of that, they lack length and their bullpen has been used a lot and thoroughly in games. Bruce Bochy, who is as good as anybody in the league in managing that bullpen, knew he was going to burn them out.”
Enter Leake, who has gone eight innings in three of his last four starts and was 4-1 with a 1.25 ERA in July. All it cost the Giants were a pair of minor leaguers: infielder Adam Duvall and right-hander Keury Mella.
“Yes, they had to give up their best prospect to (get Leake), but they don’t need prospects,” Burkhardt said. “They don’t need position players. They have them. So they go and get a guy in Mike Leake, who, yeah, on the surface, his numbers may look average, but look a little deeper and see what he is: he’s a free agent at the end of the year, I get that. But he’s 27 years old, he’s a ground-ball, in-play-type pitcher.”
Leake has also been borderline dominant on the road this season, posting a 2.28 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP outside of the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park.
“If you don’t think that plays in a big ball park with one of the better defensive teams in the league, you’re wrong,” Burkhardt said. “I just think it’s exactly what they needed. I’m not saying they got David Price. I’m not saying they got Cole Hamels. I’m saying they got exactly what they needed. (Leake is) the perfect fit for the San Francisco Giants.”