LeBlanc will have an MRI test on Saturday to determine the severity, but manager Scott Servais acknowledged it didn't look good after the 34-year-old clutched his side and had to be taken out after his 92nd pitch of the night -- a changeup that sailed high and wide of the plate.
“I really don’t know where we’ll go,” Servais said of who’ll likely line up in LeBlanc’s place for his next scheduled start Wednesday against the Indians. “We’ll see how severe it is. But I would assume Wade probably won’t make his next start, based on what happened tonight.
“I’ll talk to Jerry [Dipoto] and the front office and we’ll have a plan. That’s what the guys in the Minor Leagues are there for. You’re never going to get through just with five starters, so you start looking at some other guys and other options. Again, give guys opportunity and see who takes it.”
The likeliest options would appear to be No. 1 prospect Justus Sheffield, who made his second start for Tacoma on Friday and gave up five hits and two runs (one earned) in four innings against Albuquerque, or No. 9 prospect Erik Swanson, just sent back to Triple-A after pitching two innings of relief in his Major League debut in Thursday’s 7-6 win in Kansas City.
Veteran lefty Tommy Milone is another possibility if the Mariners prefer to wait on their youngsters.
LeBlanc said he felt something grab in his side in his final two pitches Friday.
“It just didn’t feel right, so I got out of there,” LeBlanc said. “I’ve never pulled anything before, so I couldn’t really tell you what it’s supposed to feel like. It’s part of it. We’ll bounce back as quick as we can, make sure it’s healed and get back to help these guys keep rolling.”
The veteran held a 3-2 lead through 4 2/3 innings, having allowed eight hits with one walk and five strikeouts. LeBlanc had given up a two-out single to Carlos Correa and a double to Yuli Gurriel and had a 2-0 count on Tyler White when he was taken out of the game.
Catcher Tom Murphy signaled to the bench as soon as LeBlanc’s final offering sailed high, as he couldn’t get full extension on his delivery.
“The pitch before I kind of saw him tug at something,” Murphy said. “I asked if he was OK and he said, 'Yeah.' Then obviously the changeup kind of sailed on him. That was the first pitch he didn’t have command of the whole night, so you knew something was wrong.”
LeBlanc is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts. He was replaced by right-hander Shawn Armstrong, who was just activated off the 10-day injured list before the game after recovering from a strained left oblique.
Armstrong’s strain was considered relatively mild, but he still needed nearly a month before he was ready to pitch again.
“It certainly didn’t look good,” Servais said. “Anytime a player grabs his side like that, it’s concerning. I thought he threw the ball really well tonight. He was right at the end of his pitch limit there. I was hoping to get him through the fifth, unfortunately the injury happened. We’ll know more tomorrow.”