Leake concerned with longevity, not personal win-loss record

Mike Leake takes his approach to his own won-lost record from a former Red.

CINCINNATI — Mike Leake’s earned run average is 3.59 this season and his earned run average last season was 3.37.

So wouldn’t one think that his record might be close to the same for both seasons?

That isn’t how baseball works — never has, never will. And nobody knows it more than Leake.

Leake was 14-7 last season with that 3.37 ERA and this season it is 10-11 with that 3.59 ERA.

And it is why Leake pays no attention to a personal won-lost record and goes so far as to say he doesn’t believe they should even keep track of a pitcher’s won-lost record.

It is the team that wins and loses games. There are eight players on the field along with the pitcher. And it is team wins and losses that mean something in the standings, not a pitcher’s won-loss ledger.

Do they keep a football quarterback’s personal won-and-lost record?

To Leake, a pitcher’s goal should be to pitch as many innings as possible and to make every start when it is his turn. It is something he learned from former teammate Bronson Arroyo.

"That was my main goal this year," said the 26-year-old right hander, the Cincinnati Reds No. 1 draft pick out of Arizona State University in 2009. "I wanted to pitch 200 innings and make every start."

With at least three starts remaining, maybe four, Leake is only 10 innings away from 200 and he hasn’t missed a start this season.

"I’m like Bronson Aroryo always was," he said. "I don’t really worry about the wins and losses. I’m more impressed with longetivity numbers than the immediate numbers."

In his five years with the Reds, after coming directly from college to the Reds rotation, he is 52-30. More importantly to him, he pitched 192 innings last season and didn’t miss a starter.

"Making every start and throwing 200 innings is what I’d rather do every year than go out and win 15 or 20 games once or twice. The innings and pitching every start is more appealing to me than winning games.

"Wins and losses are really not an indication of how your season went," said the 5-foot-10, 190-pound right hander. "You can have a 4.50 ERA and have 16 wins."

That’s why Leake believes keeping wins and losses for pitchers is meaningless.

"I don’t even think wins and losses should be a pitcher’s stat," he said. "That really is a team stat. I mean, just the other day Mat Latos doesn’t give up an earned run, all four runs are unearned, and he gets tagged with the loss. That’s difficult for a pitcher."

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Don’t get Leake wrong, he loves to win, loves to be a part of a win, "But I’d rather win with the team than with personal stats."

His won-loss record, if he cares to look at it or think about it, isn’t what he would like it, but the team won-loss record sends shudders through his shoulders — 67-76, 12 games out of first place.

"It’s frustrating because everybody here wants to win and you can definitely see the difference in the atmosphere when you lose," he said. "It’s making everybody want to win more because they miss winning. It is difficult to swallow all these losses we’ve been putting together."

What makes it feel worse is that the Reds have lost 35 games by one run, most in the majors. And it is felt in the clubhouse.

"It is not like we get completely blown out," said Leake. "We’ve only been blown out like a handful amount of times and that makes it even more frustrating. That makes it more difficult because you are always somewhat in the games."

Leake makes his next start Tuesday night against the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, against whom he is 3-5 for his career.

Typically, Leake doesn’t care about that 3-5 record. More importantly, the Reds have won two of his last three starts against the Cardinals and the bullpen blew a save in the other game.