The Buffalo Bisons have a huge hole to fill in their starting rotation, as left-handed ace Wade LeBlanc was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Seattle Mariners Wednesday morning for cash or a player to be named later.
LeBlanc was targeted by Seattle to replace injured starter Taijuan Walker, who is suffering from an inflamed tendon in his leg. LeBlanc will likely start for the Mariners Friday against St. Louis, his first MLB appearance since 2014.
“We felt we had some in-house candidates,” Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto told The News Tribune. “But in this particular case, we did not have a lefty. He was obtainable because he had a contract out, and we were able to work something out with the Blue Jays.”
The Mariners starting rotation has been depleted as Felix Hernandez and Wade Miley are both on the disabled list. The Mariners are confident Walker won’t have to join them on the DL according to The News Tribune, as Seattle expects him to return to the rotation early next week.
For Toronto, it came down to giving the 31-year-old pitcher another chance at the majors.
“They’re not going to hold anybody up if a guy has a chance to play in the big leagues,” Bisons manager Gary Allenson said before the Bisons’ 8-1 victory over the Louisville Bats on Wednesday night. “If not with us it can be with somebody else. … It’s a good chance for him.”
LeBlanc was 7-2 in 14 starts with the Bisons, leading the International League with a 1.71 ERA. He was second in wins and third in strikeouts in the league, and was far and away the Bisons’ most consistent starter. He allowed no earned runs in six of his last nine starts.
“He created his own opportunity by how he pitched here,” Allenson said. “He’s been automatic. … He doesn’t have great stuff, but he’s got the knowledge on how to pitch and does the best he can with what he’s got. It’s worked pretty good here.”
LeBlanc has a 21-33 record and a 4.47 ERA in 107 MLB games with the Padres, Angels, Marlins, Yankees and Astros. He signed with the Blue Jays in December after a season in Japan with the Seibu Lions.
The Bisons plan to replace LeBlanc in the rotation with lefty John Anderson, who was called up from New Hampshire to make a spot start for Toronto-bound Scott Diamond June 13. Since Diamond was returned to Buffalo by the Blue Jays Friday, the Bisons still have five starters with the team.
Anderson earned his first AAA victory of his career Tuesday, a 6-3 win over Louisville. He’s 1-1 and has a 6.00 ERA in 12 innings with the Bisons this season.
“How I’ve been throwing through this year, I’ve been kind of wondering if I was going to stick around,” Anderson said. “Just being able to pitch every fifth day, that’s huge for me.”