Mark Leiter Jr. is Getting Another Opportunity

Mark Leiter Jr.
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Mark Leiter Jr. is getting another opportunity in the Chicago Cubs‘ bullpen. So far, he has been outstanding and reliable. Through Sunday’s game, he has 2.48 ERA along with three saves in 32 games. He has become the go-to reliever for manager David Ross.

Was Designated for Assignment

This has been a whirlwind for Leiter since he was cut from the team in January. That caught him, and even the fans by surprise, since last season he had been effective appearing in 35 games with three saves. He declined the outright assignment, and elected free agency only to be brought back on a minor league deal by the Cubs in February. Leiter was offered a chance to compete for a spot on the major league roster.

Bullpen Weapon

Mark Leiter, Jr. is making the most of this opportunity. He was used mostly as a starter, but has been used primarily as a reliever after Tommy John surgery in 2019. He throws a fastball, and his splitter has been a good weapon. It is the pitch that he gets most of his strikeouts with. Utilizing that splitter against lefties has become almost un-hittable with left-handed hitters hitting less than .150 with 23 strikeouts.

Consistency

Leiter Jr. has given the bullpen some stability and is ranked No.6 in the NL in the latest Sport Relay scoreless outings. He can be called upon in different situations in games, and will get the job done. Leiter has that reliever mentality. It does not matter what the score is, or how many outs or runners are on base. Your job is to go out there and get the outs.

Very Good Bullpen

Mark Leiter, Jr. is getting another opportunity, and he is using it to showcase his talent. The bullpen is a key component to holding leads and winning games, and there are no doubts how good he can be. In fact, if you add Adbert Alzolay and Julian Merryweather, the Cubs have three very good arms that can be counted on in various game situations.

Leiter’s Evolution

Leiter’s evolution has come a long way from a 22nd-round pick in 2013. He made it as a starting pitcher with 11 starts in his rookie year with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017. Follow that up with a release from the Phillies, and a new opportunity with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. However, Tommy John surgery ended his Toronto tenure in 2019.

Another minor league deal in 2020, this time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, ended in Leiter’s release on May 22, 2020. Leiter Jr. then signed with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Yet again Leiter, did not play in a game due to the cancellation of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, he signed another minor league contract. This one with the Detroit Tigers organization only to be released after a full season in the minors.

Finally Back

Mark Leiter, Jr. is getting another opportunity after some frustrating years. He finally made it back to the big-leagues, and appears he has found a home in the Windy City. He certainly has become a high-leverage and confident reliever for the Cubs. Leiter Jr. looks poised on the mound and brings what they need to hold the lead and win. If he continues as he has, maybe this time Leiter gets a longer-term deal from this organization.

 

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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