Reliever Poised to Leap Forward: Sam LeCure
When your starting pitcher is on his last legs and he gives up that line drive double or that walk that makes you groan, someone needs to emerge from the bullpen and put out the fire. Sometimes a relief pitcher will enter the game with runners on base and he will need to minimize the damage to his fellow pitcher. One of the best firemen in the game is on the Cincinnati Reds. Right-hander Sam LeCure is a premier fireman in the league.
LeCure, 29, started his major league career as a starting pitcher but by May 2011, his second year in the majors, he was being used primarily out of the bullpen. He had his best year in 2013. He posted a 2.66 ERA in 61.0 innings pitched. While that is a great ERA for a middle reliever, his noteworthy talents won’t show up in his ERA.
In 2013, Sam LeCure inherited 27 runners and allowed a league-best three to score. Compared to the league average of 27%, LeCure allowed just 11% of his inherited runners to score. For some pitchers, this could be a unique occurrence in a great season where he simply caught the lucky breaks. But as you will see, LeCure has made this more than just luck; he has made this what he does.
|Inherited runners scored||5||5||3|
|Inherited runners scored percentage||18%||16%||11%|
Sam LeCure spent some of his major league career as a starting pitcher so his arsenal is a bit deeper than traditional relief pitchers. He throws a two-seam fastball and a curve with an occasional slider as well. The two-seam fastball has helped LeCure get a 45% career ground-ball rate on the balls put in play. Keeping the ball on the ground will help minimize the runs allowed and is likely a reason that he has so much success with inherited runners. If he is in a situation where there is a runner on base, the groundball is the best opportunity for one or more outs through double plays too. He got nine double plays in the 2013 season.
The 29-year old right-hander has found himself in all kinds of situations at all times of the game in 2013. He has shown up in many tied games and mostly in the seventh or eighth inning of the game. Clearly the Reds count on LeCure to keep the game within reach and can be counted on to stop the momentum and put out fires started by other fellow pitchers.