Sunday, February 12, 2012

#109 Luis Leal - Toronto Blue Jays

Card:  This is the third Topps card of Leal's career.

Pic:  It looks like Topps used a spring trianing shot of Leal warming up in the bullpen.

Player:  Luis Leal was 22 years old when he was signed out of Venezuela by the Blue Jays in '79.  He got Toronto's attention with his fine pitching in the PanAm Games the year before.

Leal didn't waste much time in the minors and was pitching in the majors by 1980.  He pitched in 13 games, starting 10, but was not very effective.  He walked more than he struck out and had a  4.53 ERA and 1.726 WHIP in 59 innings.  In '81 Leal spent the entire season with Toronto, making 19 starts and making 10 appearances out of the pen.  Leal had a decent ERA at 3.68 but ran into some tough luck as he had a 7-13 record.  He showed improved control but his 13 losses led the AL.

Leal was reliable and durable in '82.  He made 38 starts and logged 249 innings.  His 3.93 ERA was decent (114 ERA+) but he still has a losing record of 12-15.  Leal's ERA jumped up to 4.31 in '83 but he received better run support and finished with a winning record of 13-12.  He finished 13-8 in '84 with a 3.89 ERA and struck out a career best 134.

Leal's '85 season started out normal, but he was roughed up in May and June and sent down to the minors.  Leal missed out on the Jays playoff series against the Royals.  He spent the next two years at AAA and never returned to the big leagues.

Stuff:  Fastball, slider, curve, change


Flipside:  Those 38 starts Leal made didn't even lead his own team.  The Blue Jays employed a four man rotation for most of the year.  Jim Clancy started 40 games while Dave Stieb and Leal both started 38. 

Oddball:  Leal's '84 season was marred by a ten run outing in first game of a double header.  Not wanting to blow out his bullpen, Toronto manager Bobby Cox let Leal take one for the team, pitching 5.2 innings and allowing 13 hits, 4 walks, and 10 runs.

History:  Leal had a very solid three year run for the Blue Jays from '82-'84, averaging nearly 230 innings a season.  He quickly lost his effectiveness in '85 and disappeared.  He retired with 51 wins which at the time were the most by a Venezuelan pitcher.  

1 comment:

  1. living in toronto during the leal era,,,he put on some big time fat as the years went on and that upset mgmt,,got dealt to the pitching thin braves but never got called up,,im wondering if more to the story