The Cardinals acquiring Dominic Leone at the expense of one of their many outfielders is an interesting one for sure.
The highly anticipated trade of Randal Grichuk has happened and the Cardinals have done as they always do and have acquired an under the radar player. What can be expected by the Cardinals acquiring Dominic Leone?
Dominic Leone is a 26-year-old reliever who has bounced between the minors and majors since 2014. For the most part, he is a four-pitch pitcher who has been tinkering with his offerings throughout his career.
It wasn’t until this past season that he started to see consistent success with his offerings. It was also this season that he made a dramatic change in his repertoire.
Over the course of his career, Leone’s slider has consistently sat in the 18-20% range of use. However, it was this season that he chose to rely on the slider the least as it sat at 9.6% usage for 2017. This resulted in the percentages for his cutter and his fastball to rise.
This also resulted in the weighted value of his fastball, cutter, sinker, and slider to rise to levels they haven’t been at for his entire career. These values were even greater than his rookie season when he posted a 2.17 ERA over the course of 56 games.
In his 65 games this season, he posted an ERA of 2.56 with a FIP (Fielding Independent ERA) of 2.94. His strikeout rate also rose to 10.36, which again was a career high for him. I know the Cardinals acquiring Dominic Leone isn’t the sexy move like signing a Greg Holland but it is a move that is well needed.
Just yesterday, I told you about the Five Cardinals’ Offseason Moves That Needed to Happen, and this absolutely helps them accomplish move number five of strengthening the bullpen.
Leone features a cutter that averages out around 89 mph with a tight cut. This tends to be a good groundball pitch for Leone as just about every highlight I see him getting a guy to ground out is on his cutter.
Leone had his lowest groundball percentage of his major league career last season. The interesting thing about that is that he actually threw the cutter more last year than he ever has at 36%.
This is Leone’s bread and butter. It is a four-seam fastball that ranges in the 94-97 MPH range averaging out at around 96 MPH. It is a hard fastball that has a little bit of lateral movement to it, which will go well with a Mike Maddux coached bullpen. Not only does it have good lateral movement but according to Brooks-Baseball it also has a good sink to it as well.
Prior to this year, this was the pitch that Leone relied upon. That was for good reason. When he’s on and his slider is right, it’s downright nasty. However, when he’s not on with it you see this happen.
It typically runs in the 82-85 MPH range with a hard bite towards the LH batter’s box. If you are bored, you can research Leone on YouTube and find all kinds of strikeouts with this pitch. It makes sense that Leone had to use this pitch a lot less to make it more effective.
This is and the slider are the pitches that Leone uses the least. Like the cutter, this is a pitch that Leone will use to get a groundball. It is a pitch that he used about 9.71% of the time in 2017 (around 101 pitches). Even though the gif above shows him using it against a right-hander, Brooks Baseball tells us that he uses the pitch more against lefties (90 times).
This makes sense as his sinker actually sinks down and away from lefties. It starts out like his fastball and then darts down and away. With the Cardinals acquiring Dominic Leone, I’d like to see him work with Maddux to control the sinker a little better. This is because his sinker resulted in a ball more often than anything.
Leone is a fantastic addition to the St. Louis Cardinals. I truly believe they have won this trade. I honestly believe Grichuk had simply overstayed his welcome in St. Louis. So, acquiring Dominic Leone and Conner Greene is a fantastic haul for a player who needed to go.
If you are interested in finding out what Conner Greene brings to the table, you can check that out here. Thanks for reading as always. Check out our other Cardinals related posts here, and please be sure to follow us on social media!