LeBlanc the lone lefty in bullpen
SEATTLE -- The Angels currently do have a lefty in their bullpen, and it's Wade LeBlanc -- the guy who was going to start on Thursday until Sean Burnett landed on the disabled list with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, prompting Matt Shoemaker to return to the team and take back his spot.
"I believe I can fill any role they need me to fill," LeBlanc said. "I really do. And I hope they see that. I've improved big-time on effectiveness against left-handed hitters. This year, there's been a noticeable difference than in years past, and it's allowed me to have some confidence against same-side hitters that I haven't had in recent years. I feel like I definitely have that figured out."
LeBlanc -- 5-1 with a 3.69 ERA in nine Triple-A starts -- has done a better job of pitching inside against opposing left-handed hitters, which makes him believe he can be a situational lefty out of the bullpen if needed.
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday "there's no doubt he needs to be stretched out," which probably means LeBlanc will be back in the Minors in a few days and the Angels will have an all right-handed bullpen.
Lefty Nick Maronde cracked the Opening Day roster, but had a 12.79 ERA in 11 Major League appearances, then a 9.35 ERA in nine Triple-A appearances before getting demoted to Double-A. The only two lefties in the Triple-A bullpen are Brandon Sisk (promoted after a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings in Double-A) and Dustin Richardson (10.12 ERA in 13 1/3 innings).
"There are lefties who aren't pitching with us that would be candidates if they can throw the ball with more consistency," Scioscia said. "There are some good arms, but we're going to see how it goes."
There's always the chance lefty Hector Santiago comes back as a reliever, and there's also the chance the Angels just have right-handers -- especially since Michael Kohn and Ernesto Frieri have been better against lefties in their careers.
There's also the trade market.
The Phillies may make Antonio Bastardo available if they fall out of the race. The Padres could dangle Troy Patton. The Reds could do the same with Sean Marshall, though he's had a rough year and is in the second of a three-year, $16.5 million contract. And several other lefty relievers could be acquired via trade, as is usually the case in June or July.