Leake, Cards not overly alarmed by weakness

St. Louis sticking with rotation plans, with righty's next start slated for Monday

July 20th, 2017

NEW YORK -- Though Mike Leake acknowledged having trouble maintaining optimal body strength from one start to the next, the Cardinals do not appear concerned enough about the issue to consider an imminent change to their rotation plans.

After lasting a season-short two innings in Wednesday's 7-3 loss to the Mets, Leake said that he is still trying to regain the strength and weight lost last season when he was stricken with shingles. It didn't fully come back over the winter, and the fatigue of the season seems to be further complicating things.

Defensive lapses, weakness hurt Leake vs. NY

"I'm sure it is still partly affecting where I am today," Leake said of last year's illness. "All I know is my body feels different every start. I try to do the best I can with what I'm given each day. It's a matter of getting these kinks worked out and being able to get the strength back."

As he fights through physical limitations, Leake has seen a sharp regression in his effectiveness. Since lowering his season ERA to 1.91 on May 24, Leake is 1-6 with a 5.04 ERA and a .323 opponents' batting average in 10 starts.

"He's got a different [workout] program. He kind of does his own thing," manager Mike Matheny said. "He feels confident with what he's trying to do to keep himself strong for the length of the season."

Leake's next scheduled start is Monday, when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Rockies.

Worth noting

went 1-for-4 with a game-tying three-run homer in the start of his Double-A Springfield rehab assignment on Wednesday. Grichuk, who sustained a lower back strain during the All-Star break, is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list and likely to do so during the Cardinals' upcoming trip to Chicago.

• Rehabbing lefty Zach Duke made his sixth scoreless appearance for Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday. Duke threw 14 pitches over one inning, allowing one hit and striking out one. He has held opponents to two hits over six innings since transferring his rehab assignment to Memphis.

• Catcher established a new season high when he blasted his 10th home run of the season in Memphis' 4-3 loss on Wednesday. Kelly, the organization's second-ranked prospect, went 3-for-4 in the game.

• Matheny chose to sit three of his starting position players -- , and -- on Thursday as the club readies to be tested during a 10-game stretch beginning on Friday. The Cardinals will close out July by facing postseason contenders Chicago, Colorado and Arizona.