Friday, February 1, 2013

#187 Terry Leach - New York Mets

This is Terry Leach's second Topps card and his first solo card.  There are so many pictures from Shea Stadium that if you went to a day game in '82 and sat close to the action along the third baseline, then you probably are immortalized in this set as a fuzzy blob in background.
You can see from Leach's follow through that he had a unique motion which was very close to being submarine.  That 'stache is really something. 
Player:  Terry Leach was picked by the Red Sox in the '76 winter draft but he blew out his elbow during his junior year at Auburn and went unsigned.  He then changed his delivery to a low sidearm to keep pitching.  After not pitching much his senior year he started his pro career in independent ball and later signed signed with Atlanta in '77.  After four seasons in the Braves system he was released and he subsequently signed with the Mets.  He reached the big leagues in August of '81.  Leach pitched in 21 games, starting one, and posted a 2.55 ERA in 35.1 innings.

Leach started the '82 season at AAA Tidewater and didn't appear with the Mets until June.  Again he pitched in 21 games with one start.  On 10/1 he made an emergency start and delivered a ten inning one-hit shutout.  The only safety was a triple by Luis Aguayo in the fifth.  An amazing performance in any context, especially considering Leach hadn't pitched more than 4.1 innings in any outing up to that point.  He picked up the first three saves of his career earlier in the year and his end of the year outing dropped his season ERA from 5.35 to 4.17. 

The sidewinding Leach labored all of '83 at AAA and was traded at the end of the year to the Cubs for two career minor leaguers.  He was traded again before the season started to the Braves and after a month at AAA released.  He signed with the Mets, completing a bizarre circular route back to Tidewater where he pitched the rest of the '84 season.

Leach started the '85 season at AAA but was promoted in mid-year.  He mainly pitched in middle relief but also made four spot starts including a three-hit shutout of the Giants on 8/22.  He finished the year with a 2.91 ERA in 55.1 frames of work.  He made the '86 squad out of spring training and had five scoreless outings until he allowed two runs on May 14.  He was demoted back to Tidewater and he missed out on the Mets pennant winning season. 

Leach spent the entire '87 season on the big league roster, the first time he had done so in his 12 year career.  He joined the rotation in June and pitched a two-hit shutout on 7/22.  Leach won his first ten decisions and ended up with an 11-1 record with a 3.22 ERA (118 ERA+) in 131.1 innings.  In all he pitched in 44 games with 12 starts. 

He pitched exclusively in out of the pen in '88 with a 2.54 ERA and three saves in 92 innings.  Leach threw five scoreless innings against the Dodgers in the '88 NLCS in a losing cause. Leach started the '89 season in the Mets pen but was traded in June to the Royals.  It was a bit of a down year as his ERA climbed over four for the first time since '81. 

He spent the next two years with the Twins logging 149 innings with ERAs of 3.20 and 3.61.  He did not appear in the '91 ALCS but did get into two games in the World Series.  He allowed a run in two outings and won a championship as the Twins knocked off the Braves. 

Leach was signed and released by the Expos in '92 and ended up in Chicago with the White Sox.  He pitched in 51 games with a tiny 1.99 ERA in 73.2 innings while working in a familiar middle relief role. 

His '93 campaign was marred by bone spurs in his elbow that limited him to just 16 innings.  He rehabbed in the minors but wasn't recalled.  Comeback attempts with Chicago in '94 and Detroit '95 never materialized and his career was over. Leach retired with a 3.15 ERA (120 ERA+) in 700 innings spread across 11 seasons.

Stuff:  Sinker, Slider, occasional curve

Flipside:  The dude pitches a one-hit 10 inning shutout and it is snubbed in favor of a four inning outing...what the heck?

Oddball:  Used at times as a spot starter Leach made 21 starts in his career with three complete game shutouts in his first 11 career starts. 

History:  Leach took a long time to get established in the majors as he didn't really stick around until he was in his 30's.  It seems like he was underutilized during his career as he spent most of it working in middle relief.  Nine of his eleven seasons he had an ERA+ of 118 or better.  
Leach won a ring with the Twins in '91 and later wrote an autobiography about his up and down career. 

1 comment:

  1. That is quite a head of hair that Mr. Leach is sporting, huh??